Believe it or not, I didn’t watch the Fred Wolf Ninja Turtles show much as a kid. At least I don’t remember watching it much. So growing up, I mainly watched the movies. As a kid, I really liked the movies – yes, even that third one, though the second was my favorite. As an adult, well… two out of three ain’t bad (so don’t be sad). In addition to realizing that third film was rubbish, my tastes have also shifted to preferring the first film for its darker, more realistic (relative to all other Turtles films at least) tone. (Though the Secret of the Ooze is still a guilty pleasure.)

Because the turtles were played stuntmen in suits and voiceover actors (who would be dubbed by different actors in foreign markets), top billing for this film went to Judith Hoag as April O’Neil. From what I’ve gathered, the film was a pretty faithful adaption of the comics – albeit one that could still be shown to kids. One thing was retained from TV series. In the comics, April is a computer programmer and assistant to Baxter Stockman. For the movie, April was a TV reporter.

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This definitely works in the movie’s favor. April’s connections to the news team gives the film a more a more interesting tone and her role as a reporter makes sense that she’d follow the foot clan and the Turtles for a story. Plus, her opening report was a decent way to frame the opening exposition.

April in the 1990 film doesn’t really resemble any April O’Neil up to that point. The temptation is to say they’d want to copy the look of a character that most fans would recognize, but I can’t help but think the filmmakers knew who the real stars were – the turtles – and kept their priorities in check (if only I could say the same about OTHER adaptions). Still, there were attempts to have her resemble the character, but Hoag thought the yellow jumpsuit looked terrible. So the yellow coat she wears at the beginning was the next best thing.

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Either way, Judith Hoag is still a pretty good April O’Neil in my book. She’s a good balance between being in peril, while not being a dumbass in distress. Yeah, she’s cornered by the foot a few times, but what was she supposed to do in those situations? I do kind of like that she actually tries to fight them off with one sai. Besides, she’s strong in other ways: She stands tall against the police and her boss at the station when she’s told to lay off her beat. She refuses to blink on the matter and even loses her job over it.

She’s sarcastic in a likable way, though I have to admit some of her quips are a tad cornball. That Sony line always makes me roll my eyes. Her reactions at meeting the Turtles are amusing, and she builds a good rapport with them. She also has a good deal of chemistry with Casey Jones, building sort of a love-hate relationship. Though their relationship does seem a little random. Even if the two play off each other well, they don’t have a ton of screen time together so it seems like a little like they’re paired together because they’re the only viable human characters. Whether it was the actress or just a quirk the character was given, I do like her artistic skills. Not only are the drawings good, but it fleshed out the character a little more.

Also, as I’m sure most of you know, Judith Hoag also worked with Robin Williams on her performance. They worked on the film Cadillac Man together. Williams was a fan of the comics and lent her a few comics to study her part. (Yeah, the Nostalgia Critic mentioned that trivia, but I couldn’t ignore it.)

So what happened to Judith Hoag as April? Even as a kid, it was pretty obvious they switched actresses between movies (Let’s be honest, Paige Turco was the better looking April). Apparently, Judith Hoag complained about filming six days a week. She also wasn’t keen on the violence of this film. If anybody wonders why I never talk about my film work – unless it’s off the record – stuff like that is why.

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Don’t feel too bad for her though. She does consistently work – even appearing in stuff this calendar year. She has appeared in a few things I’ve seen (though I haven’t recognized her). She’s done single episode shots on Quantum Leap, Sons of Anarchy and Brisco County Jr. She also had parts in films such as Armageddon and Hitchcock. So that’s my take on Judith Hoag as April O’Neil. I have to say, I didn’t realize how much I really enjoyed her performance until I started doing research for this blog.

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