The Super Mario Bros. Movie Movie Review
The Super Mario Bros. Movie Movie Review Metadata
Everything fans complained about Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) not having is on full display in the new Universal/Illumination movie, The Super Mario Bros Movie (2023), but if you’re not a fan of the video game series, there’s not much left for you.
The first 15 minutes establish Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) as loveable lugs with big hearts who want to do the right thing at the expense of common sense and property damage. The Mario Brothers have left their former employment of the Wrecking Crew to branch out on their own as plumbers in Brooklyn. Their new commercial has aired and it’s as cringeworthy as you could imagine, but in that fun way that says “WE KNOW”. Their first official call certainly doesn’t make them any friends but sets up some basic gameplay, such as jumping to avoid obstacles and the brothers helping each other out.
When the City experiences an unexplained water main break, Mario and Luigi leap into action and insert themselves into a situation being mishandled by DPS. Shortly, they find themselves inexplicably sucked through sub-level tunnels and the brothers are separated into different parts of the same world. Luigi, the lesser brave of the two, has been sucked to the Koopa Kingdom, ruled by a giant spikey turtle named Bowser (Jack Black). Mario lands in the Mushroom Kingdom, a place full of Toads/Mushroom People/ Kinopios (whatever your Mario-kink), and ruled by Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), a human. This is briefly explained later. Mario implores Princess Peach to help him save his brother, and she needs him to save their kingdom from Bowser. Bowser has recently come into possession of a Super Star that will help him defeat the Mushroom Kingdom and marry his crush, Princess Peach. No one wants this.
With me? It’s a lot if you’ve never played or are expecting something different, but on the surface, despite the paper-thin story no deeper than the cut scenes normally seen in video games, it’s not terrible. Our heroes have to make alliances, gather an army, and defeat the Boss. There are powerups, jumping, running, while battling Kongs, Penguins, Koopa Troopas, and Shy Guys. If it was an NPC (non-playable character), you’re probably going to see it.
That’s it, that’s the movie.
For a movie aimed at kids, a lot of people are threatened with open murder. Perhaps this is part of regular gameplay and maybe I’m overreacting, but it was jarring in a movie so big and bright.
Oh, there is a fatalistic blue Luma, Lumalee (Juliet Jelenic), who due to its long-term incarceration over lava, is either terribly pragmatic or quite insane. If there is a sequel, here’s hoping we get more on that backstory because Holy Toledo, keep that one clear of sharp objects.
The Super Mario Bros Movie is beautiful, and Illumination never fails to bring spectacular animations and eye-popping imagery to its films. It’s as immersive an experience as you can get in 2D, and the action is smooth and engaging. If you’re a fan of walk-throughs on God-Mode, this is definitely the movie to see. It really is like watching a skilled player work through the levels. That said, Super Mario Bros is light on actual plot and story, and most of the humor is only really funny if you’re 10.
Because The Super Mario Bros Movie spans several storylines across 20+ games, fans will find easter eggs throughout. I am not a player so I cannot point them out, but if you take a gamer you may hear occasional squeals of delight.
For how it’s presented, which is honestly nothing more than promised, The Super Mario Bros Movie might be a worthy way to spend an afternoon.
The Super Mario Bros Movie (2023) is rated PG for videogame action and violence, such as getting repeatedly punched in the face, tumbling off rainbows, violent cart demolitions, explosions, dangerous romantic obsessions, and the forced captivity of penguins.