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The Super Mario Bros Movie Review: Fans Will Flip

The Super Mario Bros Movie is jam-packed with Easter Eggs and something Nintendo fans with flip over, despite its several flaws. 

The Super Mario Bros Movie 2023 review

The Super Mario Bros Movie is a love letter to the video game franchise from Nintendo. It does its best to sneak in as many Easter Eggs and references as it can, for better or worse. I wouldn’t say that the plot necessarily suffers from this, however the story itself is lacking. It is very formulaic and was clearly made so that even the youngest fan can understand and enjoy it. Still, those who love these plumber brothers will have fun with the movie, if nothing else.

In this film, Mario and Luigi are accidentally sucked through a warp pipe to a magical world. Mario ends up in Mushroom Kingdom, but Luigi does not. After joining forces with Toad, Mario finds Princess Peach and learns about the evil Bowser. Fearful for his brother, he sets out with his new friends to help stop Bowser’s dastardly plan.

The Super Mario Bros Movie 2023 review

The Iconic Mario Voice Is Addressed

The trailers certainly sparked a debate after it was realized that Chris Pratt, who is the voice of Mario in the film, would not be speaking in the iconic voice. While this is how we know the beloved character to sound, I assure you that ninety minutes of it would get old real fast. However, it should be mentioned that the voice is addressed very early on in the film. Pratt tries his hand at it, and succeeds I might add, but it is made clear that is not what the filmmakers were going for.

What Pratt does works. I promise you that. It makes sense and even if it bothers you at the beginning, you are going to quickly forget it as the movie continues. 

The Super Mario Bros Movie 2023 review

So Many Easter Eggs

If you couldn’t tell already from the trailers, this movie has a lot of fan service. There are references and Easter Eggs for all of Nintendo sprinkled throughout, but a ridiculous amount specific to Super Mario Bros. This is not a bad thing, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Whenever it was possible to sneak something in, they did it. From a NES console to a Jumpman arcade, there are nearly unlimited things that will have fans pointing and saying “They did the thing!”. 

Physical things are not the only references, however. The team behind The Super Mario Bros Movie was sure to include a lot of sound references as well. The score and sound effects almost make the film feel like a video game. Viewers will have flashbacks to playing their favorite games as the tunes they are used to pop up in the background time and time again. 

The Super Mario Bros Movie 2023 review

Voice Cast Delivers

We already talked about Chris Pratt’s voice, but how is everyone else’s? Here’s the thing about taking such a beloved video game franchise and bringing it to the screen — we already have an idea of what these characters sound like. Using live action actors to voice them, instead of voice over actors, is a choice and it could have gone very poorly for Universal. However, every single person delivers their A-game when it comes to bringing these characters to life.

Anya Taylor-Joy is the perfect Princess Peach. She is feminine, yet powerful. Peach is brave and bada*s in this movie. She is fighting for Mushroom Kingdom and she is willing to do just about anything to save it. Taylor-Joy captures that drive and will have little girls looking up to her for years to come because of this performance.

Keegan-Michael Key is hilarious as Toad, which should come as no surprise. He is a comedic genius and he puts that into this role. Charlie Day is a great Luigi. He is far too under used, which we will get to later. Seth Rogan is a great choice for Donkey Kong. And yes, he does the laugh. And yes, it actually works.

As for Jack Black, well, we all know the man can sing. So if you were going into this hoping to get a Bowser singing moment, be excited. You will and it is amazing. Black will have fans absolutely loving what he does with Mario’s famous villain. 

The Super Mario Bros Movie 2023 review

Stunning Visuals

For those who have watched the trailers, it is quite clear that this is a gorgeous movie. The 3D animation works extremely well. It is bright, vibrant, and colorful.

Even when we see Bowser, and his airship, it isn’t TOO dark or TOO scary. The Super Mario Bros Movie does a great job of moving from anything that can be terrifying to something light and fun as quickly as possible. Lumalee provides a lot of the comedic relief in these dire situations, which helps to keep little kids on the entertained side of things instead of the scared side of things.

The Super Mario Bros Movie 2023 review

Luigi Is Sidelined

This all brings me to my biggest issue with this movie. As a massive Luigi fan, they did my boy dirty. Poor Luigi is sidelined for nearly the entire film. Don’t get me wrong, he has his moments, but they are few and far between. 

We are teased with so many great directions that they could have taken things, only to immediately push his story aside and head back to Mario. Luigi and Mario’s relationship is the heart and soul of the film and so it is a bit of a downer to not get more of the “as long as we are together, everything will be ok” moments that the plot relies so heavily on. 

All of this being said, Universal would be crazy not to continue the franchise, so we have high hopes we will be seeing Luigi again — Luigi’s Mansion please and thank you. 

The Super Mario Bros Movie 2023 review

A Weak & Predictable Plot

The reason Luigi is not featured as much as he could be in the film, is because the story doesn’t call for it. This is about Mario working with Princess Peach and Donkey Kong in order to find his brother. The other two have their own motives, which we won’t get into for fear of spoilers. 

It is a very simple plot. It’s formulaic and even a bit childish. This was made so that fans of all ages can enjoy it, and in making sure that little ones would be okay with everything happening, and fully understand it all, it loses something. This isn’t a movie that will have you thinking at all. It’s predictable. 

Overall, The Super Mario Bros Movie is very much a kids movie, that adults will have fun with. But being fun isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hopefully in the future they will go a bit more in depth and give older fans some things to ponder. 

The Super Mario Bros Movie 2023 review

Overall Thoughts

The Super Mario Bros Movie is a love letter to the video games thanks to what feels like endless Easter Eggs and references. It is clear the people that worked on this movie are Nintendo fans themselves. It certainly has its issues, but that doesn’t ruin the appeal.

Thanks to some truly incredible voice performances, these fan favorite characters come to life in a way that was never expected. The visuals and stunning, which will keep you entertained through the formulaic plot. 

This is one of those films that will be watched over and over by its core audience. There are multiple hints at what could be coming next for the franchise. I just have my fingers crossed for more Luigi.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

NEXT: Designing Element City & Its Residents For Pixar’s Elemental

The Super Mario Bros Movie 2023 poster

About The Super Mario Bros Movie

Based on the world of Nintendo’s Mario games, the film invites audiences into a vibrant, thrilling new universe unlike any created before in an action-packed, exuberant cinematic comedy event.

While working underground to fix a water main, Brooklyn plumbers Mario (Chris Pratt; Jurassic World and The LEGO Movie franchises) and brother Luigi (Charlie Day; It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) are transported down a mysterious pipe and wander into a magical new world. But when the brothers are separated, Mario embarks on an epic quest to find Luigi.

With the assistance of a Mushroom Kingdom resident Toad (Keegan-Michael Key; The Lion King) and some training from the strong-willed ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy;The Queen’s Gambit), Mario taps into his own power.

The Super Mario Bros Movie hits theaters April 5th.

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