(from left) Toad (Keegan-Michael Key), Mario (Chris Pratt), Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) and Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) in Nintendo and Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie, directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic.

Review: The Super Mario Bros. Movie

By: Robert Prentice
Rating:

Here we are with yet another attempt to adapt a video game into a feature film. Now unlike the notorious previous live-action attempt with Mario, this one is animated by Illumination and features a stacked voice cast for the title characters. Of course, the announcement last year of Chris Pratt in the title role of Mario lead many to already start to boycott the film long before we ever got a trailer. So let’s dig in.

With help from Princess Peach, Mario gets ready to square off against the all-powerful Bowser to stop his plans from conquering the world.

Review

There was a lot of concern going into this movie with the casting of Chris Pratt as the voice of Mario. Those concerned can rest easy because outside of the first few minutes Mario doesn’t spend his time trying to speak in an accent. So yes for the most part you will get yourself spared from Chris Pratt trying to sound Italian. The rest of the voice cast was great, no notable voices sounded off or out of place.

The plot for the film is thinner than the rainbow road they raced on, which for a film like this is probably for the best. We spend really no time asking why or how, we just jump right in and go with it. In what ends up being a love letter to all things Nintendo, The Super Mario Bros. Movie starts off a bit slow in the beginning without any of the humor hitting it off. However, by the time we are about 1/3 through the film, it starts to hit its stride and I found myself starting to laugh at the jokes.

The easter eggs from the 30+ years of Mario titles and Donkey Kong are everywhere. And smartly the film drops in many of the iconic tones, sounds, and music from those games into the film including a musical scene with Jack Black (Bowser). With a PG rating, the film is very tame, and clearly geared toward family audiences. Kids who still love Mario and play the games will be all over this film, much like Sonic. For adults in their 30s and 40s, if you were of the Nintendo generation and played a lot of video games as a kid, it’s a flashback to a time when games were simpler, more fun, but infinitely frustrating.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie certainly stands out from previous attempts (live-action or otherwise) to adapt the title Nintendo character to the big screen but as far as video game adaptions go, most adult viewers won’t be back for a second viewing.

© 2023 Nintendo and Universal Studios

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