After years of failed video game adaptations, the long-awaited Super Mario Bros. Movie has finally arrived. Illumination and Nintendo bring the beloved and iconic character to the big screen with a visual vibrance that sets a new standard for animated video game adaptations. Benefitting from decades of creative development, the film manages to stay true to the games despite a thin plot.
The film follows Mario and Luigi, played by Chris Pratt and Charlie Day, as they are transported from Brooklyn to the Mushroom Kingdom through a warp pipe. There, they become involved in King Bowser’s plans to steal the Super Star and gain power over Princess Peach’s Toad-filled domain, resulting in a journey that hits all the beats of the classic “warrior from another world” narrative.
Co-directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic take advantage of the vast wealth of material from the Mario games to stage inventive action moments. The heavy use of references is justified by creatively organic ways to use them to enhance the world’s magic.
The score by Brian Tyler perfectly expresses the games’ grandeur and whimsy. The film’s use of pop tracks can be grating at times, but the fantastic score more than makes up for it.
The voice acting by Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, and other cast members is enthusiastic and brings the characters to life. Keegan-Michael Key, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Fred Armisen provide kookier supporting characters, while Jack Black’s performance as Bowser stands out as a standout vocal performance.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is constantly entertaining, but it lacks any meaningful thematic throughline aside from working together. The lack of exploration of emotional fractures between characters or delving into their childhoods leaves the story feeling thin.
Overall, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a visual masterpiece that delivers a thoroughly enjoyable adventure for fans and general audiences alike.