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Release Date: 04/05/23 [In Cinemas]
Genre: Animation. Adventure. Comedy.

Studio: Nintendo / Illumination

"The story of The Super Mario Bros. on their journey through the Mushroom Kingdom." 


Arguably the most recognizable or household name when it comes to video game characters is Mario. The famous Italian plumber has been around for 42 years and has been adapted to both film and television before, with 1989s The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! and the 1993 film Super Mario Bros. Movie. The results of those were well…let's just say that it would be easy to believe those adaptations are partially responsible for why it's taken as long as it has for this property to hit its reset button. This time around Nintendo has paired up with Illumination, to bring us The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023). The animation studio is responsible for the Despicable Me, Minions, Sing, and The Secret Life of Pets franchises. While that doesn't inspire a huge vote of confidence, an animated Mario film focused on using its lore and world of characters respectfully does seem like a great start. Can the latest video game film adaptation of the iconic character land a record-high score? 


Unfortunately, The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) falls short of making the top of the video game to film leaderboard. As disappointing as that may be, there is fun to be had and moments to admire. It’s easy to be sucked into the film, when the world of The Super Mario Bros. presented has never been more striking. The eye-popping colors, charming animation, and notable performances, all assist with making this overall, a dazzling display of the world of Mario. Adapting a game where most of its characters don’t have much of any spoken dialogue, Nintendo and Illumination shot for the stars when it came time to round up its cast. Chris Pratt as Mario is not as miscast as it initially appeared to be on the surface, with Pratt delivering a more than acceptable performance of the acclaimed character. Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach, (luckily not simply a damsel in distress here) does well-providing bravado to match the film's modern approach to the character. Jack Black as Bowser, unsurprisingly, takes the top prize with his funny, boisterous, and malicious, take as the giant evil turtle. While those are the leads of The Super Mario Bros. rounding out the rest of the cast are Charlie Day as Luigi, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, and Keegan Michael Key as Toad. All these performances are serviceable enough, considering not having much to do or impact the story. I don’t think I’ll be alone in finding moments of Day's wimpy, scared, high-pitched interpretation of Luigi to be annoying. Which brings up one of the films issues, side-lining Luigi, the brother of Mario, and a part of the title The Super Mario Bros., the character is reduced to his basic traits and his character arc is lacking at best. 

Perhaps the biggest setback The Super Mario Bros. Movie presents is its pacing, a serious issue for any movie, in this case, a lot of the film’s problems all stem from its breakneck speed. Refusing to pump the brakes every now and then, deters the impact certain scenes are meant to have. Instances of comedy fall flat, or because it’s a cheap lazy gag you’ve seen over and over. Narrative stakes are almost non-existent because of how quickly they are overcome. The one aspect of The Super Mario Bros. Movie makes readily apparent how disinterested it is in dedicating much of any time to well… really anything, outside of nostalgia bombs and easter eggs. Treating the story like a Mario Kart race instead of dedicating any of the 92-minute runtime to focus on enriching plot and character details, or to simply allow the viewer to absorb the world. As beautiful and pleasant to look at as The Super Mario Bros Movie is, and though it has some genuinely fun and dazzling scenes aided by solid performances from the film's talented cast. The film is more interested in stuffing in as many Easter eggs and references to its franchise as possible. Resulting in a rather hollow feeling experience, similar to those annoying green turtle shells meant to hit you, The Super Mario Bros. Movie will leave you frustrated, yet still interested in seeing if the inevitable sequel will learn from this entry's failed attempts.

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