The Super Mario Bros movie is the perfect blend of nostalgia and family-friendly fun. Fans of the games will find a huge number of callbacks and references to look for, while some stellar animation, amazing music and a big dose of wholesome humour means almost everyone will find something to enjoy.
As one of the world’s biggest Mario fans, of course, I was beyond excited to hear about the release of the Super Mario Bros movie. The games have always been a huge part of my life, and I was very eager to see how the filmmakers would bring these beloved characters to life on the big screen (especially after the disaster of 90s live-action attempt). I was thrilled that Mr Miyamoto was involved and the trailers had definitely allayed some of my fears. And now, after watching the movie in full, I am very happy to report that the movie is fantastic and I loved every minute of it!
From the first seconds of the movie to the final image… the love of Mario and Nintendo is everywhere
From the first seconds of the movie to the final image (and yes there are post-credit scenes so stay until the very end) the love of Mario and Nintendo is everywhere. I was blown away by the sheer amount of Easter eggs from the games. From the GameCube phone ringtone to all the references to the NES/FAMICOM area and everything in between it is clear that directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic are fans themselves and they wanted to pay tribute to the source material. As a fan, it was so satisfying to catch all these little nods throughout the movie and I kept wanting to jump out and point out reference after reference. The Mario Kart sequence alone is worth the price of admission. Even if there was nothing else, seeing thirty years of your favourite series brought to life on the big screen in this way is really special and would probably be enough for me. However, a lot of that is down to the animation work done by Illumination. It is simply astounding. While Odyssey set a new benchmark for how our favourite Mushroom Kindom characters look, the attention to detail and simply dazzling use of colour and space in the movie, brought even my most pixelated memories to life in a way they never have before. And the music somehow manages to highlight this even further – with every note showering us with nostalgia or hitting just the right emotional mark for the movie.
The attention to detail and simply dazzling use of colour… brought even my most pixelated memories to life!
Going in, the voice acting was of course a cause of concern. Charles Martinet had done such an awesome job of being Mario for so long it was hard to imagine anyone taking on the mantle – and unfortunately, Chris Pratt’s early comments and even the few clips we heard of him didn’t do him any favours. That being said, the final voice work actually ranged from very good to great. The storyline while relatively thin, gave us a believable reason for Mario to sound like he now does, and despite my worries, Pratt really does a good job walking the tightrope between an unrealistic stereotype and honouring the Mario we know and love. And say what you will about him, he really is good at emoting the ‘unlikely hero’ character. And while Seth Rogen and Fred Armisen’s takes on DK and Cranky Kong are a little underwhelming, Anna Taylor-Joy (Peach) and Keegan-Michael Key (Toad) are great. And to top it all off, simply stellar performances from Jack Black as Bowser and Charlie Day as Luigi (and a few cameos from Martinet himself) bring it all home and there’s really nothing to complain about here and really a lot to enjoy.
While this is clearly made as a love letter to fans even if you’ve never played a Mario game before this movie has a lot to offer. Not only are the animation, music and performances probably enough to sway even the most ardent critics, but as a family movie, this really does have something for the whole family.
The humour also holds up… and some of the Bowser sequences are simply fantastic bits of comedic cinema
The story is simple enough for kids to follow along with, and while that may be seen as a negative, thanks to the movie’s short runtime it keeps even adults entertained all the way through. And, there are even some important lessons about never giving up and family expectations that are sure to make parents happy. Plus, the characters are so endearing that it’s hard not to root for Mario and Peach, worry about Luigi and marvel at Bowser and his army the whole way through no matter what your age. On the whole, the humour also holds up. Sure, it’s aimed at a younger audience, however, this is not a fart-joke-filled cartoon, that adults have to wince through. In fact, in our theatre, I couldn’t help but notice all ages (from toddlers to grandparents) smiling and giggling the whole way through and some of the Bowser sequences are simply fantastic bits of comedic cinema. Three decades of Mario fun means almost everyone has some sort of connection to the moustachioed plumber and the movie has managed to capture something for everyone.
In fact, the only things that didn’t quite land for me were a few brief moments in the Dark Lands with Dry Bones being a little creepier than I would hope and the small cameo from a Galaxy’s Luma. The Luma’s existential humour was clearly aimed at an older audience but it did get a little dark and when the joke persisted for a few scenes it started to fall a little flat for me. But these are really minor quibbles in an otherwise fantastic movie.
In short, I highly recommend the Super Mario Bros movie to anyone looking for a fun, entertaining movie that the whole family can enjoy. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the games like me or just looking for a fun adventure for kids, there’s something here for everyone. The animation is amazing, the voice acting is better than expected with some really standout performances, and the movie as a whole is a love letter to Super Mario Bros fans everywhere that hits all the right notes. So grab some popcorn, settle in, and get ready to go on a wild ride with the Super Mario Bros. in what we hope will be the first adventure of many!
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