Can you believe that it has already been decades since the release of the 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. movie with Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo? Fast forward to 2023, and we now have a new feature adaptation of this beloved video game franchise. This time, it’s animated. Illumination, the animation studio best known for Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets, and Sing, has finally released its cinematic take on this iconic series simply titled The Super Mario Bros. Movie. With a very straightforward premise, our titular protagonists Mario (Chris Pratt) and his brother Luigi (Charlie Day), get transported into an alternate magical world where an ongoing conflict exists between the Mushroom Kingdom and the Dark Lands. Mario lands in the Mushroom Kingdom, led by Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), and Luigi gets stuck in the Dark lands, ruled by the evil Bowser (Jack Black). Mario now goes on an adventure to save Luigi, while proving himself as the hero the world needs.
“Let's-A-Go!” Everyone has gone completely nuts after Universal revealed the official voice cast for this movie. It features a packed cast with popular actors, such as Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Armisen, and Kevin Michael Richardson, all playing classic Mario characters that Nintendo fans love. Charles Martinet, who has been the current voice for Mario in the games, is also part of the movie for a special appearance! Pratt is fine as Mario, but you do feel like another actor would have done a much better job than him. However, Day, Taylor-Joy, and Black steal the show in their roles and are unquestionably the best parts of the entire film due to their fun personalities. You can tell that they must have had a lot of fun bringing their characters to life.
“Mamma Mia!”As expected from Illumination, the animation is quite impressive and stunning to look at. It's cool to see the vibrant and colorful world of the Mario games on the big screen. Nostalgia is both a pro and con to the film. Nintendo fans will unquestionably recognize and appreciate all the Easter eggs and references throughout, while casual moviegoers may find them a little jarring and “in-your-face” at times. The biggest problem with The Super Mario Bros. Movie is the script; it’s not that great. The narrative flow feels rushed and cliche, plus the dialogue is bad and cringe-worthy. Some lines will make you roll your eyes. Hopefully, you can let it go, considering that it’s first and foremost for kids and fans of the game.
While playing the games themselves may be a much better option, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is still an entertaining feature-length commercial for the game. Not everything works and despite a mediocre script, it’s still an enjoyable watch.