PLOT: Two plucky Brooklyn plumbers are whisked away to a magic kingdom where they encounter a princess and battle an evil villain.
REVIEW: He’s Nintendo’s most famous character, but boy, has Super Mario ever proven to be a tough character to adapt to the big screen! As we previously covered on our show Awfully Good, the 1993 big-screen live-action version of Super Mario Bros was a disaster. But now, thirty years later, a faithful version of the classic video game series has finally hit the silver screen, with it doing the series justice in the only way they ever really could – by making it animated.
Coming from Universal and Illumination, The Super Mario Bros. Movie seems likely to spin off another popular franchise for the two studios, who already have the Despicable Me, Minions and Sing series going strong. Fans of the game will appreciate all the easter eggs, which stem from the original games and even the animated TV show some of us watched as kids. But, at the end of the day, keep your expectations in check gang – this is, after all, a movie for kids. It’s evident that all involved wanted to make this enjoyable, even for young kids who may have never picked up their parents’ Nintendo Switch.
Voiced by Chris Pratt and Charlie Day, the Mario Bros, Mario and Luigi, translate pretty well to the big screen. While some may be upset that Pratt isn’t doing much of a “Mario voice,” it’s all explained, and both he and Day try to evoke a kind of cartoonish Brooklyn accent. In this, the boys are starting their own plumbing company, only to get sucked into the mushroom kingdom, which is on the verge of being invaded by the lovestruck Bowser, voiced by Jack Black, who wants to marry Anya Taylor-Joy’s Princess Peach. While in a lot of the games, Mario had to rescue the Princess from Bowser’s clutches, here it’s the easily frightened Luigi who’s kidnapped.
While some may complain this is Nintendo going Woke, to me, this isn’t all that different from the game in which Peach and Toad (voiced her by Keegan-Michael Key) were always playable characters. Peach does her signature moves here, including floating around by her skirt, and there are nods to all of the popular games, including Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros and even, briefly, Luigi’s Mansion.
For the most part, the voice casting seems on point. Pratt is a likable Mario, while Day is giving his all in the role despite being a wimpier Luigi than I remember. Jack Black is a good Bowser, despite the two musical numbers they give him to pad out the scant running time (80 minutes without credits), while Keegan-Michael Key’s voice is given a high-pitched working over to play Toad. However, Seth Rogen isn’t doing much as Donkey Kong, with his energy level a touch low. Anya Taylor-Joy is a great Princess Peach, and heck, she looks so much like the character that were they to make a live-action version, she could play the part again.
The visuals do a good job evoking the games, particularly the more sophisticated Super Mario Odyssey (a game that I consider a masterpiece), with the soundtrack by Brian Tyler and Koji Kondo pretty faithful to the games. Here’s my problem with the movie – it wasn’t much of a film at all. For the most part, I felt like I was watching someone play Super Mario, and being a pretty devoted fan of the games, I wanted my turn at the controls. Watching people play Mario Kart or Super Mario Odyssey will never be as much fun as playing it yourself, but – I’ll give the movie this – I wanted to run home, turn on the Switch, and play the heck out of the game for a few hours. It’ll sell a lot of games, and kids will love it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the novelty wears off for older fans and they all start itching to just go home and play the game themselves.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/the-super-mario-bros-movie-review/