The Super Mario Bros Movie Review: Promising Beginnings


The Super Mario Bros Movie has been released in cinemas, and yes, our review is coming out a bit late, but you know what they say: better late than never. I’ve only recently been able to watch the movie, and I have some thoughts.

The first thing that I have to make very clear in this review is that I am a huge Super Mario fan. I’m actually a huge Nintendo fan. I’ve played most of the Mario video games on the likes of the NES, the SNES, the Nintendo 64, the Game Cube, the Wii, the Wii U (yep, I owned that console), and the Nintendo Switch.

It’s easily one of the best-ever video game franchises. However, Nintendo has been very cautious about making another Mario movie since the 1993 Super Mario Bros movie was released. That move really spooked the company since it was really not what they expected, and the film bombed at the box office.

To be honest, I don’t think anybody expected that movie, which starred Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi. That film was a catastrophe, although I’ve discovered pretty recently that there are fans of that film, much to my amazement.

When it was announced that Nintendo was partnering up with Illumination to make a new animated Mario Bros movie, I was really excited because I have loved a lot of Illumination’s previous work. I like the Despicable Me films, the Sing movies and I love the Minions films. Yes, I have a soft spot for the Minions.

The Super Mario Bros Movie doesn’t suck!


Credit: Nintendo

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So, I’m happy to report that this new animated Super Mario Bros movie is a lot better than the 1993 live-action version. I would argue that it’s the best possible movie that we have hoped for.

It’s no secret that Nintendo is very, very cautious these days about what is made outside of its video games using its IPs. This means that it would have been rather difficult for Illumination to really push any boundaries with this film.

I think, given the constraints, Illumination did a really good job with this film. Yes, the plot is very simplistic. I get that. However, it’s a Super Mario Bros movie, so I’m not really sure what people expected.

I liked the backstory that the movie’s writer, Matthew Fogel, came up with for Mario and Luigi in this movie. They’re actually plumbers from the ‘real world’. They live and work in Brooklyn, and I think that was the right way to go about it.

It has a very simple plot, but that’s not a bad thing


Credit: Nintendo

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I also quite liked the movie’s overall plot. Yes, as I mentioned before, it’s very simplistic. However, let’s not forget that this is a movie based on platforming video games. We’re not really here for the story. We’re really here for the journey and the experience of being with these characters and in these locations.

Moreover, The Super Mario Bros Movie doesn’t have a ‘save the Princess’ story, which is the case for most Super Mario video games. It’s actually a ‘save Luigi’ storyline, with a sprinkling of ‘save the Mushroom Kingdom’ subplot thrown in.

I also wasn’t thrown by the movie’s voice acting. There was a lot of talk about Chris Pratt being the voice of Mario, but I was pretty on board with him as Mario from the very beginning. I also loved Charles Martinet’s cameos in the film. He’s the voice of Mario in the video games.

Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy, Seth Rogen and Fred Armisen were all pretty solid. However, the standout, for me at least, was Jack Black as Bowser. He was perfect in the role, and his ‘Peaches’ song was just brilliant. I think that might end up getting a Grammy and an Oscar nomination.

The only voice actor that I wasn’t wowed by was Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, and that’s more because his voice was so altered that I kind of wondered why they even bothered hiring him to do the voice in the first place.

Super Mario Bros fans will love this movie


Credit: Illumination

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As a Mario fan, I had a blast with this movie. However, here comes the kicker. I think that my love of and familiarity with the games actually made me like the movie even more. I do think it’s a very good family movie. Yet, if you’re an adult with very little knowledge of the games, the film might feel a bit weak.

The story is a little bit paper thin, and some of the set pieces are really geared to get you into nostalgia mode in the sense that they remind you of playing the video games’ platforming levels.

I think that if you’re looking for a strong animated movie, with a great plot, interesting themes and that has something to say about the world we live in, The Super Mario Bros Movie isn’t the film for you. This isn’t a Pixar feature. It isn’t a Puss In Boots 2 or a Guillermo Del Torro’s Pinocchio. It’s not a Hayao Miyazaki masterpiece.

The Super Mario Bros Movie is a fun animated feature which involves one of the world’s most famous and beloved video game characters. It’s got colourful visuals, fun set pieces, a lot of jokes, some great musical cues from the games and a paper-thin plot.

I had fun with it, and I was happy to finally watch a Super Mario Bros movie that didn’t suck. There will be more of these films in the future, and they might start getting a bit more adventurous with them.

But, for now, what Nintendo and Illumination wanted was to make a movie that would make a lot of money and not tank the franchise from the very beginning. That’s what they delivered.

What do you make of this review? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

What do you make of this story? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages! And if you enjoy listening to film podcasts, why not check out our podcast, The Small Screen Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts!

Good Things

  • Mario celebration
  • Visuals
  • Love for the video games
  • Fun

Bad Things

  • Paper-thin plot

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