The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

Quick Reviews

Directed by Aaron Horvath & Michael Jelenic

Written by Matthew Fogel

Based on Mario by Nintendo

Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, Fred Armisen, Charles Martinet, & Kevin Michael Richardson

Release Date: April 5, 2023

Running Time: 1hr 32

Rating: PG

Brooklyn plumber Mario (Pratt) and his younger brother Luigi (Day) stumble into another world. The two are separated, with Mario ending up in the Mushroom Kingdom, befriending mushroom person Toad (Key), who introduces him to Princess Peach (Taylor-Joy). They team up to find Luigi and to stop the destruction of neighboring worlds at the hands (claws?) of Bowser the King Koopa (Black).

The film premiered in Los Angeles on April 1, 2023 and was theatrically released in the United States on April 5. It’s has grossed $377 million worldwide, becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2023 and having the biggest opening for a movie based on a video game. While it’s received universal praise and acclaim from audiences, critical reviews have been mixed (no surprise there).

What can you say about Mario? He’s one of the most recognizable characters in the world, with many of his games being among the best selling of all time. He was also the first video game character to ever get a movie adaptation, a live action one all the way back in 1993. No doubt most reading this knows that one didn’t go so well critically or financially (it was in fact the first movie I enjoyed in the ironic sense), hence why it’s taken this long for the mustachioed plumber to star in his own feature again. In between all that we’ve had a bunch of video game movies of varying quality, many that make the live action Mario Bros. look like Citizen Kane. Seriously, if you think the 1993 movie is among the worst movies ever made (it really isn’t) then you haven’t seen many movies (not that I blame you if you don’t actively seek out bad movies).

Do you like fast paced action, colorful characters, and top notch computer animation? Then this should definitely be something you’ll get a kick out of! I got exactly what I wanted out of an animated feature focusing on Italian American plumbers who jump on top of enemies to defeat them. Honestly got way more than expected. Some folks seem nitpicky towards the story, but the Mario games aren’t exactly known for their deep lore. It’s not exactly some through provoking character study, but it does what it needs to do, entertain and not be overly annoying (like so many movies aimed at kids can be). Sure, the bar for a good video game movie is extremely low (at this point it’s barely off the ground…), but I think this has enough for old and new fans of the long running franchise.

All the voice cast is giving enthusiastic performances, I particularly think Jack Black is the major standout as the voice Bowser. There’s a lot of fun Easter eggs towards not only the older Mario games, but other first generation Nintendo games that shaped many a childhood. It never felt like it was dragging (and I’ve seen movies shorter than this one that feel insanely slow), I think it could’ve been a bit longer; but what we got is solid entertainment. So hop down a warp pipe to get to the nearest cinema and give this a watch.

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