Super mario movie logo

The Super Mario Bros. Movie – Review

From all the promo for this movie, I had no idea whether it would be a complete cringefest or a legitimate blast.

I had many questions. Do the people making it understand Mario and the things fans would enjoy? Will it be aimed at the fans who have supported Mario for 35 years or will it be designed to bring brand new young fans in? and Why Chris Pratt?? The only way to answer those questions was to go see the movie, and I’m glad to report mostly positive answers.

A clip of the mario brothers movie poster with Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong and Princess Peach with Bowser in the background

Those are very specific questions, so before we get to that you should know the movie is a lot of fun. It’s not a demanding watch unless you want to hunt down all the Easter eggs and references. The plot is just about all I needed it to be or expected coming from the video game origins of “Rescue the Princess”. After a brief introduction and some bad luck, Mario and Luigi are transported to the Mushroom Kingdom. They become separated in this magical realm and so starts Mario’s quest to rescue Luigi. Which puts Mario alongside Princess Peach on her quest to save her Kingdom.

Mario and Luigi bumping fists

The world and characters look wonderful, easily beyond any game cutscene, but not so removed from what we know. There was even an unexpected flashback that definitely didn’t stray from the established. There’s barely anything in this movie that isn’t either pulled directly from a game or created in reference to something Nintendo related. That also goes for the music, it’s a testament to the strength of Koji Kondo’s original compositions that they work so well in a movie setting, and of course there’s a blast of nostalgia with each one you spot. The tracks are worked in pretty well and rearranged to fit smoothly with the movie score. I’m not sure any other video game movie could pull this off but it’s delightful. There are some feel-good pop songs in here too but I was too hyped to worry about whether they “fit”.

Bowser half silhouetted with fire behind him

The attention and care around the source material means there’s a lot for older fans to enjoy. It’s just fun to see these characters interact. Then there’s ridiculousness such as Seth Rogan’s laugh coming out of Donkey Kong that I found unreasonably hilarious, or Mario’s training montage that made me feel bad for my lack of skill playing the old games. I imagine kids are going to love the characters and humour and the fair bit of slapstick, although they may now be asking their parents for Mario games.

Luigi panicking as he is lifted into the air by magic

And you know what, I don’t hate Chris Pratt’s performance. I’m still not convinced Mario’s video game voice could have carried an entire movie. Instead, we get a vaguely American Italian voice that doesn’t grate with a few pops of the classic “Yahoo” and such to show excitement etc. Plus a few other nods and references. It works. There are some bold casting choices, but unexpectedly it seems the cast were selected before the movie was written, or at least the characters have moments that play to their actor’s strengths. No way Bowser would have had his own rock concert and musical number without Jack Black behind him.

Toad and Princess Peach leaning forward with excitement

I’m genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed myself watching The Super Mario Bros Movie. There’s just the right mix of references and humour with well-crafted visuals and sound. I hate to admit it, but I may prefer this to Sonic’s first movie. The lack of live-action humans removes some of the awkwardness and Mario does an excellent job of feeling video-gamey without feeling contrived or cheesy. If I wanted to be all grown-up and critic-y, I’d mention how Bowser is more a creep than a villain, and how most characters are a bit flat and lack arcs… other than Luigi. Luigi is clearly the superior Brother.

a star with an 8/10 rating





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *