The Super Mario Bros. Movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie assembles an all-star voice cast in the game-based movie in which Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach must band together to stop Bowser’s attack on the mushroom kingdom. The animation is colorful and lively, doing the vivid and imaginative world of Mario justice. Though the movie starts out with a sweet underdog charm due to its protagonist brothers, it soon trades any personality that makes the franchise stand out for the same flat characters and dynamics Illumination Entertainment has been writing for over a decade. The characters’ journeys aren’t all that intriguing besides some of the voice performances, and the plot, dialogue and even song choices have been borrowed from countless other movies. There are a few funny moments and the action is suitable for families to watch, but the movie never aims to have a heart that could impress teens or adults. Chris Pratt does an okay job as the titular character, though his turn is nowhere near as unique as what he brought to Emmett in The Lego Movie. Jack Black, Charlie Day and Seth Rogen perfectly fit their characters, so does Anya Taylor-Joy though Princess Peach’s characteristics are reduced to “brave female butt-kicker” and any character relationships or themes are brushed past, even the adventure feels incredibly rushed. Mario and Luigi’s brotherhood is the one thing that’s charming, though they aren’t together for that long.

The movie draws from and pays tribute to many corners of the Mario game franchise, but a lot of the game play references feel incredibly on the nose, when the point of a video game adaptation is to draw from the look and feel of the source material rather than strictly translate its gameplay. Though it does reward fans to see all parts of Mario’s history including Super Smash Bros and Luigi’s Mansion, it’s unfortunately not enough to warrant the price of admission. The film’s main strength is in the voice cast and colorful animation, as well as a few good jokes, but it’s really only worth going to to keep audiences 10 and under attentive, as most of the film’s story beats feel like an AI took Illumination’s past movies and wrote them into the Mario universe. Unfortunately, you’re better off rewatching similar movies like The Lego Movie or Wreck-It Ralph.


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