Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Sandwich and the Fury, Signifying Nothing
By Andrew B.C.D.E. McAndrews, American Journal of Cinema and Such
What can be said of Michael Bay’s latest entry into the pantheon of large-budget action adaptations that indeed will be of any consequence whatsoever at all? It is movies like this that are effectively critic-proof: everyone who has any interest has already gone through the thoughtless process of clicking the much-anticipated trailers, plunking down his $14 for a ticket on opening night, and will maybe re-visit the film when it’s released on“Net-“Flicks””” one night as he drifts off to sleep after a night of beer parties with his fraternity brothers.
One detail I noticed, however, is perhaps indeed emblematic of the entire exercise writ large: at a certain point, during one of the plodding exposition scenes, actor Will Arnett is seen making, and subsequently eating, a sandwich consisting only of mustard and parmesan cheese (not the authentic Whole Foods kind, the powdery Kraft kind the kids are dumping on their spaghetti these days). Who has ever eaten a sandwich like this? Is it the new delicacy and I am somehow unawares? The new cucumber and white bread? No. It would be indeed terrible, and bad as well.
I mean seriously, my dear reader, imagine how it would taste. Michael Bay sure didn’t. Director Jonathan Liebesman didn’t. Yet this mindless business performed by an actor to keep himself moving while delivering dialogue to get to the next scene (a daring rescue, or perhaps a beat of the perfunctory love story, I forget) made it into the final cut of the film. Audiences glossed over it, still excited from the last explosion and looking forward to the next one. Indeed, this is part and parcel of the kind of haphazard, anything-will-do filmmaking that indeed plagues our cinematic filmculture indeed. Indeed.
It is well-known that in The Great Gatsby (1974), Mia Farrow insisted on the bedroom drawers full of shirts, even in scenes when they would never be seen. Nobody would ever know, of course, but it would matter somehow. She would be able to deliver a performance with more authenticity,that elusive, ineffable quality that got lost somewhere along the way. Perhaps it fell off one of the trucks carrying Bay’s elaborate lighting rigs, or maybe a CGI technician threw it out with some old take-out containers.
Well I suggest digging through the rubbish bin to find it,Mr. Bay, because until then, that’s exactly what your movies are: rubbish.
RIP Cinema: 1890s (there is some debate)-1965 (When Mr. Bay was born. I looked it up IN A BOOK!)
chad roberts, popreview.net
I just walked out of TMNT and…one word: holy crap! I loved it! I mean, c’mon guys, it’s TURTLES and they’re doing KARATE. How much more AWESOME can you get! Oh yeah….and they love PIZZA! Sure, I’ll take some PIZZA! With extra AWESOME SAUCE please! Oh it’s already got plenty on there? Well I’d love some MORE, PLEASE! Oh, you’re all out? Well no you’re not, cus I saw a TON OF IT back there behind the counter.The ticket counter, that is! Because I’m talking about this AWESOME MOVIE!
Okay, time to put on my “serious film critic hat” I guess (it’s got a fun pinwheel on top, which I spin sometimes when I’m thinking, or hungry, or just horny) and “review” this “film.” (Uhh sorry, grandpa, it’s a MOVIE) Look, critics who hate this kind of movie love nothing more than to hate this kind of movie. When they say they’re “critic-proof” they’re right - but not in the way Fort Knox is theft-proof, in the way a bottle of cough syrup is child-proof. You just gotta squeeze the top a little, baby!
Here’s a microcosm of what I’m talking about: there’s a scene where Will Arnett is making a sandwich while talking on the phone about breaking into the secret laboratory where one of the turtles is locked up. He’s seen putting some mustard and parmesan cheese on a few slices of bread and taking a bite as he leans against a kitchen counter. I mean c’monnn it’s fuunnnn! They probably cracked up right after the director yelled “cut.” I’m putting a note in my phone right now to look for it in the special features when the DVD comes out. “The Sandwich Scene”: “Yeah, Will was cracking us all up with all these crazy sandwiches. The guy tried peanut butter and lettuce, mayonnaise and jalepenos, hot sauce and grapes. That one was the craziest! The sound guy almost puked!!”
I mean seriously, why do movies exist? To have fun! So if you’re not having fun, I suggest YA STAY HOME! And sure, this is a “popcorn movie” or whatever they’re calling it at Encyclopedia Magazine or whatever these days or whatever. What-EVER! But if you’re not appealing to the widest possible audience, what are you even doing? Just jackin’ off with your film school buddies. And who likes jacking off with their buddies? Not me, cus I’m not gay.
TMNT and “The Sandwich Scene”: A Closer Think
By Mark Plaidshirt, thinkpiece.com
Look, there’s been a lot of back-and-forth about the Sandwich Scene on all the film blogs that I somehow have time to follow because I’m a cool film critic who gets it. Stuffy academics will say the mustard and parmesan cheese sandwich is bad filmmaking. The fanboy crowd will say the mustard and parmesan cheese sandwich is fun. It seems obvious to me that both of these arguments are missing the point entirely.
It is actually a ham sandwich.
How could I come to such a conclusion, you ask? There is clearly mustard, visible on the bread and from the yellow mustard bottle. There is clearly parmesan cheese, which we see Arnett shaking on the sandwich before he closes it. But we do not see any ham. Where is the ham?
The ham is implied.
The filmmakers are asking you to do a little more work in this scene. Remember, this is a return for Bay to the type of the huge-budget films that made him a household name. Sure he’s working here in a producer capacity, but this film has his fingerprints all over it. And this time those fingerprints are covered not only in Doritos dust, but expensive fancy cheese like they have in those big stacks at Whole Foods.
So yes, the ham is implied. We can no longer take Michael Bay’s films at face value. We have to think about them for a little while longer, tweet about them, GChat with our friends to see what they thought, take the dog out, and then write a blog post to fully grasp the meaning of what he was trying to say.
Let’s take a look at the sandwiches throughout hisfilmography:
Armageddon (1998):When Michael Clark Duncan is driving his motorcycle away from the cops in the “get the team together” montage, he can be seen eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This is the classic everyman, mass appeal, but still very tasty sandwich. This is an easy sandwich to make, but still has virtues and takes skill to do well.
Bad Boys II (2003): There is a part in this movie where Martin Lawrence gets high on ecstasy after eating a tainted turkey sandwich. This is just what Bay is doing with this movie, experimenting with more stylistic lighting rigs and sensationalist camerawork in action scenes. Much like a turkey sandwich laced with ecstasy, this movie tastes very good.
Transformers (2009): This movie is really bad, there are no sandwiches in it. Transformers don’t have to eat sandwiches.
Pain & Gain (2013): This movie starts at the end, with Mark Wahlberg running from the cops,much like Michael Clark runs from the cops in Armaggedon, except instead of a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, Wahlberg is drinking a Gatorade. It’s not exactly that weird, but when you think of it as a sandwich then yes, it’s very weird. This movie isn’t an artsy indie movie, but compared to Transformers, then of course it is.
Which brings us to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles truly is a great fantastic, interesting, weird, bad, Kafkaesque, smelly, sparkling, tempestuous, smiley, interesting, pitch black, bold, fresh, emblematic, moldy, jewel-encrusted, tardy, light blue, dank,mouth-watering, a little bit tangy, ice cold aaaand finally hit my word limit, now I can go drink and watch COPS.