The Super Mario Bros. Movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Works as fan service for fans of the Nintendo games, but ultimately a film aimed at younger audiences.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Release Date: April 5, 2023
Runtime: 01:32
The story of The Super Mario Bros. on their journey through the Mushroom Kingdom.

The Nintendo stars hit the big screen in a new animated adventure in . Mario () and Luigi () are two Italian brothers running a plumbing business in Brooklyn. While trying to fix a broken water main, the Mario Bros. gets sucked into an old pipe in the sewers. Mario ends up landing in the Mushroom Kingdom, where he is greeted by Toad (), who brings Mario to meet Princess Peach (). Meanwhile, Luigi lands in the Dark Lands and soon finds himself a prisoner of the King of the Koopas, Bowser (), who plans to use his newly acquired Super Star to force Princess Peach to marry him or else face destruction. Mario, Peach, and Toad head off to seek the assistance of King Cranky Kong () and his son Donkey Kong () for their help in the upcoming battle with Bowser.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie Synopsis

Three decades after the disastrous 1993 live-action film, Illumination Animation and Nintendo present The Super Mario Bros. Movie directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic (Teen Titans Go! To the Movies) and written by Matthew Fogel (Minions: The Rise of Gru, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part). The film stars the voices of Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Charlie Day (Pacific Rim) as the titular Super Mario Bros., who have spent their entire life savings to promote their upstart plumbing business. Mario and Luigi are separated from each other when both are sucked into the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario seeks Princess Peach's help and joins her on Peach's quest to save the Mushroom Kingdom from Bowser and his wizard second-in-command Kamek ().

My Thoughts on The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Even though it now has a bit of a cult following, 1993's live-action Super Mario Bros. starring Bob Hoskins and was such a critical and box office failure that it prevented Nintendo from licencing out its video game character again for three decades. For The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Illumination Animation Studios worked with producer and franchise-creator Shigeru Miyamoto to create an animated adventure more faithful to the games they were based on.

As someone who grew up playing the games since the NES days, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a successful adaptation from a fan service standpoint. The film features many winks and nods to longtime franchise fans, including using the 1989 Super Mario Bros. Super Show animated series theme song as the jingle for the Mario Bros. plumbing commercial. The film also features a cameo by Charles Martinet, the longtime voice actor of Mario in video games, which also pokes fun at the video game Mario's very stereotypical Italian accent.

Speaking of which, one of the more controversial aspects of The Super Mario Bros. Movie was the casting of the very non-Italian Chris Pratt as Mario. As it turns out, Pratt was fine in the role, despite it being his normal speaking voice with a very slight Brooklyn accent added. Jack Black was perfectly cast as Mario's archnemesis Bowser, which includes a hilarious musical number about Bowser's love for Peach, who is also perfectly cast by Anya Taylor-Joy. As for the rest of the main cast, Charlie Day and Seth Rogen are essentially playing themselves as Luigi and Donkey Kong, and Keegan-Michael Key is practically unrecognizable with his very high-pitched performance as Toad.

While The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a film that longtime fans of the video game franchise can enjoy, it is also quite obviously a film geared towards a younger audience. The very brisk 92-minute film has a very basic plot that is probably more notable for its various musical queues, such as The Beastie Boys' “No Sleep til Brooklyn” and Bonnie Tyler's “Holding Out for a Hero,” the latter of which seems to be going through a renaissance in terms of being included in films and TV shows. Also, many of the gags are funny yet quite juvenile, such as the recurring joke of an imprisoned Lumalee, a cute blue star for people who haven't played the games, saying incredibly dark and nihilistic things.

Undoubtedly, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a much more faithful adaptation of the Nintendo games than the 1993 film. However, while adults who grew up playing the games will probably be entertained, this is very much a film that is focused on a much younger audience. However, it is still a film worth checking out, if only to get Bowser's love ballad stuck in your head.

Trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.