‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ (2023)
Universal Pictures & Nintendo
Directed by: Aaron Horvath & Michael Jelenic
Written by: Matthew Forgel
Starring: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogan, Fred Armisen, Kevin Michael Richardson & Sebastian Maniscalco
Video game movies can be tricky. From ‘Rampage‘ to ‘Reseident Evil‘, they bring with them a mixed bag. Usually animated ones are a safe bet. The Pokemon films have done fairly well, for example. And since Bob Hoskins is , sadly, no longer with us and John Leguizamo has made his feelings pretty clear, an animated Super Mario Bros seemed the best way forward. And while the 1993 classic of the same name will always hold a special place in my little geek heart, this brand new iteration definitely levels up big time! ‘The Super Mario Bros Movie‘ features an all-star voice cast of Chris Pratt (Mario), Charlie Day (Luigi), Anya Taylor-Joy (Princess Peach) , Keegan-Michael Key (Toad) and Jack Black (Bowser) among others.
The plot centers around Mario & Luigi who have quit their job to strike out on their own as plumbers in Brooklyn. While trying to make a big name for themselves by helping to solve a city-wide flooding problem, they find themselves in a labyrinthine system of long forgotten pipes – one of which pulls the brothers into another world. Separated on their journey, Luigi finds himself the prisoner of the evil turtle king Bowser while Mario ends up in the Mushroom Kingdom. There, he encounters Toad & Princess Peach who agree to help him rescue his brother and stop Bowser from taking over all of the realms. The world building is well-done and easily sets itself up for a few sequels as the plot for this first installment plays out. The pacing starts off a little slow but quickly ramps up and then never stops. It’s lighthearted fun with great visuals and Bryan Tyler‘s music both plays on your nostalgia while also immersing you deeper into the world right along with our heroes! It’s a quick 92 minute run time and was an absolute delight from start to finish.
Let me say that I grew up playing Super Mario Bros on the original 8-bit Nintendo and then graduated to Super Mario Bros 2 and 3 as well as the spin-off games on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or SNES), then onto the N64, etc. So, yeah… I’m pretty, pretty, pretty familiar with Mario lore *hair toss*. As a result, I found myself giggling and grinning at all of the inside jokes, Easter eggs and musical cues that only an experienced *ahem* Game Master (see what I did there?) would know. However, in chatting with some of my fellow reviewers, not everyone caught everything and they still enjoyed the movie regardless of their level of Nintendo accumen. Kids will love it because of the funny characters and eye-grabbing spectacle and adults will love it because of the cleverness of Matthew Fogel‘s script and then nostalgic callbacks generously sprinkled throughout. I can hardly recall the last time a full-fledged family movie came out of the gate this hard, but that’s exactly what ‘The Super Mario Bros Movie’ does. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say this film warps its way right up to a 9. Tickets are on sale now so get out there and bring the family with you! Bowser insists!!