Written and directed by Vin Nucatola, Italian Turtles is not about a bunch of reptiles sitting around eating pasta and drinking coffee but instead questions what it must have been like in 1987 pitching the idea for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series. Starring: Nick Piacente, Chris D’Amato, Timothy J. Cox, Bj Gruber, Janel Koloski and Mary Ortega.
When you start to think about it, explaining the Ninja Turtles to anyone who has zero awareness of them, it sounds absolutely ridiculous which is the entire concept of this film, it’s an insane idea but one that worked unbelievably well. Even just explaining to someone the difference between a turtle and a tortoise can be difficult, added to explaining why they live in a sewer, their sensei is a rat and arch enemy’s design is based on a cheese grater. It’s automatically funny and the 80’s setting only adds to that, the extremely fake moustache sported by Piacente is utterly ridiculous and yet forgivable because it fits so well with the 80’s vibe.
The acting is great, Piacente and D’Amato are the perfectly awkward artists explaining their crazy concept to the executives, very well played by Cox, Gruber and Koloski who provide a good dose of comedy with their difficulty grasping the idea of ninjutsu trained reptiles. In fact it’s the only comedy that even slightly treads outside of the initial concept, other than a very strange moment involving a lobster claw which was an odd choice. The film is very one note, the synopsis explains the entire parody they’re going for and they don’t stray from that, which is a shame, a little more variety would have been a good addition.
The 80’s setting means that the direction is quite simple, a back and forth switiching point of view from the guys pitching to the execs, and means that the colour palette has to remain quite muted which is unfortunate given how colourful the subjects of their pitch truly are. The same goes for the energy, it’s not monotone by any means but the characters are so lively it’s a shame that didn’t translate into the film, the characters pitching the film are more concerned with failure than bursting with motivation for their project.
It’s a great idea, the concept is funny, the cast are wonderful and it definitely works but it keeps very firmly inside that one idea and doesn’t go any further than that. It’s disappointing a little more of the Ninja Turtles’s energy and colour didn’t influence the end result.