Film Review: “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”


Screengrab from: The Super Mario Bros. Movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie released in theaters on April 5, 2023. The movie follows the famous plumber, Mario (Chris Pratt), team up with all his classic friends to stop Bowser (Jack Black) from taking over the kingdom.

Cassandra Bauer, Film Reviewer

The iconic world of the Super Mario Brothers is brought to life by way of vivid colorful animation in Illumination Studio’s latest film “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” 

Brothers Mario and Luigi have quit their day jobs to start up their own plumbing business, aptly naming their company “The Super Mario Bros.” Remaining largely unsuccessful, they seek out an opportunity to put their trade skills to use. Such an opportunity occurs when a flood has struck Brooklyn caused by its underground network of pipes. Mario and Luigi jump on the opportunity to save their city and traverse underground (cue the underground theme music) where they stumble upon a mysterious green pipe.

Any player of the many Mario games will instantly recognize that this pipe is about to transport them, which is exactly what happens as Mario is whisked away to the vibrant Mushroom Kingdom and the timid Luigi finds himself in a haunted forest in the land of Bowser (Jack Black). Never having been separated like this before, Mario stops at nothing to be reunited with his brother. He seeks out the help of the ruler of this kingdom, Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is waging her own battle against a love-stricken but evil Bowser. Joined by Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) and Donkey Kong (Seth Rogan) together this unlikely team-up must defeat Bowser and save Luigi.

Once again we have an animated movie with a stacked cast. Though I do always love hearing my favorite celebrities’ voices pop up in a kid’s movie, I do feel that the celebrity cameo takes away a role from a talented voice actor. Especially in this film where some of the voice work, noticeably Toad and Bower’s characters, seem to be altered in post-production to better match the sound of the original character. I understand why a studio would want to fill their latest kid’s movie with celebrities, to market the movie to adults, but changing the celebrity preformance anyway is just insulting to a trained voice actor.

This is not to take away from Jack Black’s Bowser who certainly steals the show in more ways than one. Black brings his musical sensibility from his band Tenacious D, to deliver a rock ballad that has now become something of an internet sensation. It’s exciting to see an actor who is game for just about anything; Black is never afraid to ham up a scene, certainly making him the most memorable character.

Illumination, the studio that brought us “Despicable Me”, “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Sing” delivers another stunning piece of animation. It is no easy task to recreate a world that so many people love and know, and the folks at Illumination did a great job bringing all the elements of the games into the cinematic space. Nostalgia was no doubt a factor in making this idea a reality. If you like hunting for easter eggs you will not have to look very long to find them. It might be the name of a book on a shelf, an original voice actor from the games showing up as a side character, or a piece of music from a game integrated into the score, among several other things to make you point and go “I remember that.”

This is in part a reason critics aren’t taking a liking to this new video game adventure. I get it, I too am sick of studios relying on nostalgia to sell a premise, but nostalgia is a powerful tool, and it sells tickets. Despite the criticism, when all is said and done this is still a very fun movie that is a blast to see in theaters.

Watch “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” in theaters now.