"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" Film Review

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" Film Review

Rating: 3.5/5

By: Nathaniel Simpson

    Mario is easily one of the most popular and beloved video game characters, accompanied by Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, and much more. I would even go as far as to say that they are the reason that Nintendo has thrived as a company. Thirty years ago, the company tried to bring the video game characters to the big screen in the critically panned "Super Mario Bros.", ruining any chance they had to make their series into a franchise. Now thirty years later, Nintendo is bringing their characters back, hoping to achieve a different outcome compared to their previous film. Released by animation studio Illumination, they are able to deliver almost everything fans could have wanted. It is extremely entertaining and enjoyable, yet it is hard to overlook the many flaws this film does face. 

    The movie follows Mario (Chris Pratt) and his brother Luigi (Charlie Day) as they try to build their plumbing business from the group up in Brooklyn. They face a lot of difficulty trying to start their company, including dismal attitudes from their parents and family. However, when a fresh mishap forces Mario and Luigi underground, they accidentally find themselves sucked into a portal to different universes, both of them separated by the tubes to different worlds.

    Now landing in the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario must not only find his way home, but to rescue his brother, who landed in Bowser's Kingdom. The villain (Jack Black) is on a rampage, destroying all the kingdoms that come between him and the Mushroom Kingdom. Hoping to not only save his brother, but the kingdom as well, Mario teams up with a slew of popular characters from the game, including Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), Toad (Keegan-Michael Key), Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen), and much more. 

    Now, as a Nintendo adaptation, giving fans everything they would have ever wanted, I think this film does an excellent job. They give diehard fans almost everything Nintendo has created, including Mario Kart and Luigi's Mansion, in this film, while also transporting the viewer into the film. Because of this, the movie is extremely enjoyable and a lot of fun, using comedy and callbacks to make the movie so much exciting. I definitely did have a lot of fun with this movie and what they were able to do within the restraints of the film.

    However, as a movie, it seems like it clashes a lot with the Nintendo aspect. To be honest, this doesn't really feel like a movie. It sort of seems like a giant ad campaign, making audiences remember what they did in the past and why they should still like it now. On the story aspect, there really isn't a cohesive story that is that important. It feels like the filmmakers were rushed due to the runtime they had, and because of that, it cheapens so many aspects where it could have been successful. 

    It seems like the movie just wanted to market the Nintendo franchise, literally jumping from different point to point. It felt like a generic presentation to producers rather than a finished product that goes into theaters. In a way, it seems like Illumination wasn't totally sure how to make this film and include everything Nintendo wanted to include in the final product. I think it would have benefited so much more from a more cohesive story and taking more time to build the story around the characters and location. When you think about it, there is no real arch in the story, nor in the characters. It seems like the movie ended right where it began in terms of the characters and the story as a whole.

    Surprisingly, I thought the voice acting wasn't that bad. I was concerned when Pratt was announced as the voice of the titular protagonist, but I didn't even think he did that bad of a job. Of course there are certain standout performances here, such as Black and Day, who sort of just embody these classic characters that they play. The problem is though, I was so interested and concerned about who played the characters that I didn't see Donkey Kong as Donkey Kong. I saw him as Seth Rogen. You don't want to have that issue in a film like this. 

    As a whole, this film is without a doubt a really fun time and I think many audiences will truly enjoy this film from start to finish. But, as a cohesive film that does everything it needs to do to be great, it simply doesn't work. I appreciate everything they tried to do here, and I did enjoy myself from beginning to end, but there are simply a lot of flaws here that should have been fixed before its release. The end-credits scene teased a sequel, where hopefully they will learn from their ways and deliver a better film next time around.