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The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review

Photo Credit: Universal

Here’s a seemingly obvious fact about an animated Super Mario Bros. movie: it’s hard to screw up. 

Really, what’s not to enjoy? You have some of the most iconic characters of all time. The Mushroom Kingdom is familiar to those with even a casual knowledge of a gaming system. And yet, unbelievable as it may be, the new The Super Mario Bros. Movie does veer dangerously close to getting it wrong, especially if you happen to be Team Luigi.


The world of possibly the most famous fictional brothers ever created should have no need for ours or anything resembling the real world, but this particular movie somehow believes it needs to make Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) Brooklyn underdogs who have escaped the clutches of a bad boss and used their life savings to make an adorable budget commercial in service of their own recently launched plumbing business. 

Photo Credit: Universal

Mario and Luigi’s closeness and sibling dynamics are quickly established. The movie also pokes fun at a lot of Italian stereotypes. After the introduction, the duo finds themselves in an abandoned section of neighborhood pipelines. This sucks them into the beloved video game world. Unfortunately, they experience it radically differently as they’re quickly separated. Luigi lands in the villainous Bowser’s (Jack Black) Dark Land and is quickly taken captive. Mario finds himself in the adorably bright, cheerful Mushroom Kingdom.

Mario meets Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is in the middle of trying to save her kingdom from the evil invader. They quickly depart on a quest to stop Bowser and save Luigi, with the comic relief antics of Toad (Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) completing their trio. That there will be Easter eggs galore and crazy cartoon fun is a given. Still, fans might want to pause before bursting into tears of joy. A world that’s become so sprawling and generally extensive virtually guarantees that not everyone will get what they want.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie Flies By Too Quickly

They should be able to get far more since what we see could be called more of a glorified highlights reel than a tour. However, what remains is at least loaded with charm, with a stellar voice cast who’s clearly having a blast. Additionally, several eye-popping visuals make the most of any location that sticks around for more than a few minutes. This includes the tragically small taste of the land of Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen), and a high-speed Mario Kart chase on Rainbow Road.

Photo Credit: Universal

As The Super Mario Bros. Movie races merrily along on its 92-minute runtime, there’s also a relief that the classic rendition of Princess Peach is firmly in the past for this big screen iteration. Taylor-Joy struts her vocal stuff as a ruler who is a competent, interesting character in her own right. She also acts as a supportive presence for Mario coming into his own. Meanwhile, the damsel in distress business is left to Luigi, who spends most of his time in a cage in Bowser’s castle without much room for growth, character or otherwise.

There’s only room for one hero in this game. It’s Mario who gets to try on the cool powers and embark on various training sequences and battles. He also sets Bowser’s teeth on edge as he bonds with Peach; Bowser is sporting a seriously unhinged crush on the princess and plans to marry her before he tears the world up. Of course, not every kid’s movie should feel the need to take the Pixar route and delve into the painful realities of family life. Still, it’s strange to see a film about the bond between brothers only focus on one and discard the intriguing premises it brings up, including Peach’s mysterious origins.

Wrapping Up

The ones who really level up are parents. They can enjoy plenty of callbacks to their days in the world’s most popular sewer system. They’ll remain safe knowing they can allow their children to experience a nice, cute journey that will keep them constantly entertained. Even the climactic battle royale in New York City is kept small and local.

But sadly, the fun is far too limited to the sugar high variety.

Grade: 5/10

Written by Andrea Thompson

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