The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review

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It doesn’t take long for The Super Mario Bros. Movie to reveal that it has no idea what it’s doing. The director’s piety to Nintendo iconography is glaring from frame one. The film stars Chris Pratt as Mario, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach and Charlie Day as Luigi. Jack Black and Keegan-Michael Key also star as Bowser and his henchmen.

The Story

While working underground to fix a water main, Brooklyn plumbers Mario and Luigi are sucked into the Mushroom Kingdom through a warp pipe. After being rescued by Princess Peach, they learn that Daisy, a Toad with whom they had a falling-out during childhood, is the ruler of this world and the long-lost twin sister of Koopa.

The film combines several plot points from various Super Mario games, including the original Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Jr., and also references several other games as well. For example, Balloon Fighter art is used as a sign in Brooklyn and Ice Climber box art appears in Mario’s room. Scrolling news text in a pre-credits sequence mentions sightings of giant underground crabs.

In addition, some characters are redesigned to reflect changes from their video game counterparts. Mario is taller and beefier, while Luigi has a more muscular build and a more powerful jump. The chief of the Wrecking Crew, Spike, has a cyan overshirt and cap with “Wrecking Crew” text written on it. His bodybuilder-like build and the way he is dressed distinguishes him from his appearance in other media.

As the film available on Gomovies app progresses, the brothers attempt to return to their own world. Mario and Luigi encounter Daisy’s jealous ex-husband, Koopa, who attempts a takeover of the Mushroom Kingdom by using Lena, who he turned into a chimpanzee, to seduce him. However, Mario and Luigi obtain devolution guns, use them to turn Koopa into primeval slime and restore Daisy’s father as king of Dinohattan.

The Voice Cast

Despite the movie being based on Nintendo characters, the voice cast is filled with mostly new actors. Chris Pratt, best known for his roles in blockbusters like Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy, takes over the helm as Mario. He’s a solid actor fluent in comedy (he played Andy Dwyer for all seven seasons of Parks and Recreation) and has fronted an animated megahit before (Emmet in The Lego Movie).

Charlie Day is Luigi, Mario’s timid fraternal twin brother who gets captured by Bowser’s army. He’s a good actor with an excellent high-octave Brooklyn accent that feels right for the character.

Jack Black is the film’s imposing villain Bowser, the monstrous, fire-breathing spiky-shelled Koopas king who rules over the Dark Lands and wants to destroy the Mushroom Kingdom. The iconic comic legend sounds at home in the role and manages to balance being a menacing threat and downright hysterical comic relief.

Keegan-Michael Key, who also co-wrote the script and has a hilarious sketch comedy show with Jordan Peele on Comedy Central, delivers a great performance as Toad, a mushroom humanoid who aspires to go on his first real adventure. Veteran actor Rino Romano plays Uncle Tony, a longtime family member who has narrated the Cartoon Network series The Loud House and Disney’s Puppy Dog Pals. He previously voiced Darth Revan in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and narrated the Curious George series for 15 years.

The Visuals

The film is dense with painstakingly crafted details meant to delight from the start. From Mario and Luigi getting power-ups to fumble their way through an obstacle course to Bowser attacking a kingdom of penguins for the coveted Super Star, it’s clear that the filmmakers held nothing back in their gaming fan service. However, while the film delivers many a visually engaging set piece (like the arena fight and a race down Rainbow Road), it feels rushed from one story beat to the next and largely unfocused.

The characters themselves are beautifully rendered, but their animation style is inconsistent. The Mushroom Kingdom world has a cartoony feel with minimal squash and stretch, while the first setting where the heroes are from has a more realistic urban look.

In addition, the soundtrack features licensed music alongside reworked versions of classic Super Mario tracks. Despite the effort to please video game fans, the movie lacks any kind of intangible magic that could have made it a satisfying experience.

There are some glaring plot holes as well, like how Mario and Luigi ended up in the new world through that green pipe without ever investigating it to see if it would take them back to where they originally came from. The film also struggles to balance drama and comedy, and while Pratt and Charlie Day deliver solid vocal performances as the brothers, their banter sometimes feels rote or stale.

The End

The movie ends just as any good Super Mario fan would hope, with the Brooklyn plumbers defeating Bowser and his legion while bringing peace to their world once again. It’s a fun, entertaining finish that leaves the audience begging for more adventures with the dynamic duo.

The film even offers a mid-credits scene and one at the very end. The first features a miniaturized Bowser, co-written and voiced by Jack Black, belting out his hopeless ode to Peach. It’s an enjoyable scene that helps add more character to a film that’s already brimming with Nintendo references and nods.

But it’s the final scene that really puts The Super Mario Bros. Movie above most others in the video game movie genre. As the credits roll, viewers can look down and see an egg sitting amid the pipes in a sewer tunnel. This is a clear indication that the next installment will feature Yoshi, and the film’s creators haven’t made any official comments about it yet.

All in all, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is an exciting, action-packed adventure that delivers the characters, music, visuals, and fanservice fans of the franchise have come to expect. It’s a film that kids, casual audiences, and even diehard fans will love. However, it’s not one that hardcore critics will be wowed by.

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