Lively animation cannot redeem underdeveloped characters and overstuffed references in the disappointing Super Mario Bros Movie.


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Director(s) Aaron Horvath
Michael Jelenic
Screenplay By Matthew Fogel
Based On Mario video game franchise
Date Released (In Theaters ) April 5, 2023
Genre(s) Youth

Animation

Duration 1 hr, 32 mins.
Content Rating PG
Noted Cast
Mario Chris Pratt
Luigi Charlie Day
Princess Peach Anna Taylor-Joy
Bowser Jack Black
Toad Keegan-Michael Key
Donkey Kong Seth Rogen

This content contains pertinent spoilers. 

Film Summary

Brothers Mario and Luigi have started their own plumbing business in Brooklyn. Despite their lack of customers and constant ridicule and disappointment from friends and family, Mario believes in his dream of making something of himself. After seeing a piping disaster on the news, Mario convinces Luigi that they should go downtown to stop it. Alas, while underground with the pipes, a magical Warp Pipe separates the brothers and sends them into a new land.

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Mario lands in the Mushroom Kingdom, while Luigi ends up in the Dark Lands, ruled by Bowser.  Upon landing in the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario meets Toad, who explains that Bowser seeks to spread his reign across all kingdoms. Mario and Toad ask for Princess Peach’s help, and Princess Peach agrees – but first attempts to train Mario to get him accustomed to the land and the perilous adventure they’re about to embark on.

Bowser’s henchmen, called Koopas, capture Luigi. Bowser not only wants to rule over every kingdom but also is in love with Princess Peach and plans to marry her. If she refuses, Bowser will destroy the Mushroom Kingdom.  Yet Bowser is jealous of this mustachioed companion that has joined Peach, and once he learns Luigi is Mario’s brother, he imprisons Luigi to use him as ransom against Mario. 

Mario, Princess Peach, and Toad set out to convince the Jungle Kingdom to unite with them and defeat Bowser once and for all. 

Things To Note

Why “Super Mario Brothers” is Rated PG

  • Dialogue: No profanity here
  • Violence: Cartoon violence and peril throughout
  • Sexual Content: None
  • Miscellaneous: N/A

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Mario:

A small but scrappy and persistent plumber who knows how to take a hit. When Mario falls, he gets right back up. His loyalty to his brother and dream knows no bounds, and he’s not afraid to take on enemies much larger than himself.

Luigi:

The brother and foil to Mario’s bravery. While Mario is more eager to face danger, Luigi reluctantly agrees and only does so to support his brother.

Bowser:

The ruler of the Dark Lands and a ruthless leader who will stop at nothing to rule the Mushroom Kingdom and marry Princess Peach.

Princess Peach:

The ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom is equally a fierce warrior and benevolent diplomat. Princess Peach becomes Mario’s guide throughout the land and develops a romantic interest in him.

Toad:

He is an instant loyal friend to Mario who also wishes to save his home in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Donkey Kong:

A strong but conceited warrior and heir to the throne for the Jungle Kingdom. 

Review

Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)  

Notable Performances or Moments

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Jack Black Makes Bowser a Joy

If the press and social media are any indication, Jack Black is clearly having fun in his role as the evil yet delusional Bowser. In a fan-favorite moment, Black gets a special chance to showcase his singing abilities with a song about Princess Peach. He shows what this movie could have been if it was allowed to let loose. 

Highlights

Animation that Stays True to the Video Game Characters and Action

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” feels most high-spirited when paying tribute to the video game levels. The animation is fluid and relishes in the slapstick energy that comes from a protagonist that is able to fall and get back up. The scenes that explore the most fun with their video game premise are Mario’s training, his initial fight with Donkey Kong, and the introduction to Rainbow Road.  Furthermore, the character designs pop in various shapes and colors that remain true to the iconic characters.


Low Points

Underdeveloped Characters Drain Energy

When the characters aren’t up to their action-packed antics, all energy is drained from the film. Before the movie, if you were to ask anyone to describe the personalities of each character, it would be difficult to get an answer. The film’s script does no service of making Mario or Princess Peach fun, funny, or even develop chemistry. The characters spend most of their time repeating their motives (Mario has to save his brother, and Peach wants to save the kingdom), resulting in thin and boring characters to follow.

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On The Fence

Overstuffed Video Game References

Mario’s video game fans are certain to find something to enjoy from the film, but it packs so many references from each game that it becomes distracting. There is often no exploration or story utilization for these references, and they are simply there to nod at the audience, but a true tribute would have fun with the reference, such as Mario attaining his Cat Costume. But the references here serve as cynical reminders that this movie’s possible main reason for existence is to simply sell more Mario products.

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The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) – Review
Overall
The Super Marios Bros Movie feels like a missed opportunity. While it initiates a movie franchise, the lack of a creative story and characters remind us that its true aim to sell more Mario products.
Highlights
Animation that Stays True to the Video Game Characters and Action
Disputable
Underdeveloped Characters Drain Energy
Overstuffed Video Game References
70

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