The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review

Release Date: April 6, 2023
Starring: Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Seth Rogan, Anya Taylor-Joy, Keegan-Michael Key
Directed by: Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic
Studio: Illumination


Hooked on the Brothers...

I must have been the only person heading into The Super Mario Bros. Movie with nothing but pure optimism and elation, because I left grinning from ear to ear. The film is an ode to generations of gamers that adore Nintendo's mascot, with an incredible adaptation to gaming's most sensational tropes that has withstood the test of time. However, a touching spin turns the plumber's escapade into a rescue mission for his rattled, easily intimidated younger brother Luigi. An emphatic turn to what was once the Brother's expedition to take down the benevolent Bowser, and rescue Princess Toadstool. I love how much of a badass they made Peach in this story proving herself to be quite the warrior in her own right by aiding Mario in taking down the overgrown Koopa King, with hopes of foiling his plans to rule the world.

After the Mario Brothers open their new plumbing business, their first job goes awry leaving them defeated with little motivation to continue. Mario catches a report on television that Brooklyn's business district was flooding due to a pipe that had burst underground. With haste, Mario and Luigi head downtown to investigate the dark and daunting depths of New York's corroding infrastructure, only to have them fall farther below the surface. They discover a large green pipe that sucks them through an unknown void which separate's their respective paths, taking them to different locations. Mario lands in the Mushroom Kingdom where he encounters Toad, to which the unfamiliar humanoid-like, mushroom headed creature informs Mario that Luigi had landed in the Darklands, an area ruled by Bowser.

Toad leads Mario toward Peach's castle where the crimson-clad plumber begs for her help, only for the Princess to insist that Mario train on her custom obstacle course before taking on the beast, after Bowser had personally destructed the icy kingdom of the Bumpty penguins, taking their King and civilians prisoners after the village held the rare power star that would make him ultimately invincible. Successfully taking on Peach's challenge, Mario, the Princess and Toad head off to Cranky Kong's village with hopes of asking for his aid, only to be met with an expected rejection. With some convincing, the King of Kong's would only agree on the terms that Mario would topple his son Donkey Kong, in a Gladiator-style Smash Brothers fight in front of a packed arena.
Seth Rogen's portrayal as Donkey Kong was masterful, giving life to the great ape's quirks and some trademarks seen within the DKC series.

The dancing pecs, the clapping hands, while entering the fight to the DK Rap from Donkey Kong 64, it's a nostalgia filled frenzy. After Mario defeats Donkey Kong, it's agreed that the army of apes would help protect the Mushroom Kingdom from Bowser's fleet of Koopalings, Goomba's and other ferocious foes. Meanwhile, we grasp the idea of Bowser's plot behind stealing the Power Star. He intends to use the item as bribery for Peach's hand in marriage. Bowser is madly in-love with Peach to the point of being delusional and incredibly jealous of others trying to impress her - Peach herself labels the Koopa King a psychopath. Jack Black is absolutely phenomenal in his role, with his insane range convincing viewers of Bowser's dastardly side, while showing the ravage rule to have a sensitive side, belting out ballads of mindless melodies dedicated to his infatuation of Princess Peach.

Charlie Day and Chris Pratt rebound off one another's personalities with great charm, delivering depth in both Mario and Luigi. While Charles Martinet's untouchable performance has given life to both brothers and a slew of others within this universe, to diversify the characters and give them their own sense of individuality was undoubtedly felt here. Expectations by many were low for Pratt, but after this it's no question that the man has proven doubters wrong, and is indeed Super Mario, within its cinematic presentation. The wahoo's sound authentic, while Luigi's trembles are unquestionably a Charlie Day trademark. This won't knock Martinet off from being Mario in video game entries, but damn if it wasn't fantastic to see these characters come to life without the tacky accents and one-word colloquy.

Laden with Easter Eggs from beginning to end, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a film made for all ages, however catered toward children. I hate using this trope, but it's indeed a love letter to devout fans of its longstanding lifespan of 37 years, showcasing its roots, right to its modern day deliveries. Simple platforming, Mario Kart, Smash Bros., its extended universe with Donkey Kong and Yoshi, it's all present. Backed by orchestrated overtures that blare emotionally charged tunes will leave fans with goose bumps and teary eyes when it's all said and done. An outstanding tribute to gamers and the medium's most popular mascot, The Super Mario Bros. Movie covers all bases to reach a new class in gaming-to-feature length film adaptation. An astonishing joyride for the entire family, and an adventurous flick to kick back and experience, especially those looking to introduce the young ones to Nintendo's magical medium.

Noteworthy Mentions...

  • A big hand to the cast portraying favourites; Chris Pratt was a massive highlight for me personally. I was neutral for the casting choice, as a person that loves Pratt’s acting chops so I was definitely keen on seeing him portray my favourite video game mascot, to which he did excellently.

  • Jack Black owns Bowser. He makes you believe in the behemoth, as his gravely growls daunt easily, while exuberating Bowser’s charm that fire-breathing beast tries best to hide.

  • Anya Taylor-Joy was perfect as Princess Peach, given an original portrayal with more confidence in her own abilities. Absolutely kick-ass.

  • Music choices matching moments within each scene, such as SNES Rainbow Road slowly fading through the cloudy frame upon Mario landing atop of the multi-coloured surface was indeed a tear jerker. As someone that played Super Mario Kart non-stop with my family as a kid, it was simply an overwhelming moment to experience. It immediately sold me that this film was made with love and care by Illumination.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a 2023 computer-animated adventure film based on Nintendo's Mario video game franchise. Produced by Illumination, Universal Pictures, and Nintendo, and distributed by Universal, it was directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic from a screenplay by Matthew Fogel.

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