Film Review – The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

Title – The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) 

Directors – Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic, Pierre Leduc and Fabien Polack

Cast – (voices of) Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, Seth Rogen 

Plot – Brothers and struggling New York plumbers Mario (Pratt) and Luigi (Day) find themselves thrust into a magical kingdom where the evil Bowser (Black) is threatening to take control with only the kind-hearted Princess Peach (Taylor-Joy) standing in his way. 

“I’m too cute to die” 

Review by Eddie on 01/05/2023

It really should do anything but, but unfortunately the newest big screen adventure of the Super Mario Brothers makes me sad. 

It’s better (if less schlocky entertaining) than the renowned terrible experience that was the 1993 live action iteration of Nintendo’s iconic characters but I am unshakably forlorn about what this prime example of a studio and its backers/partners reaching for the lowest hanging fruit means for the future of family entertainment and Hollywood blockbusters aimed squarely at the easy to please and most vulnerable, as the billion plus dollar success and unbelievable (if also somewhat predictable) praise from common audiences surely means we are set for more generic and easy to digest properties such as this in the near future. 

Perhaps it’s because I’m a nearly middle aged grump or perhaps I am just a bad person? But despite growing up surrounded by the joyous world of Mario and the wider Nintendo brand I expected more from this affair handled by Despicable Me studio Illumination Studios and while I understand this is not a film for adults, although Nintendo fans are one of the rarest breed of fans that seem incapable of disliking anything their beloved company does or associates itself with,  Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic, Pierre Leduc and Fabien Polack’s feature is a tiresome exercise of well trodden paths that is neither witty enough, charming enough or magical enough to be considered a fun family ride even if many, high off the sugar like rush of the 90 minute film, will claim otherwise. 

The film itself certainly looks great and feels like a Mario world come to life with vibrant colors, crazy characters and more than its fair share of winks/Easter eggs to the properties past and present but outside of the colorful world in which we find the Chris Pratt voiced Mario and Charlie Day voiced Luigi we find nothing to write home about in a comedic sense or magic sense as we are instead treated to a film more intent on selling its audience more games or merchandise than creating something wholesome or memorable. 

Quality family entertainment on both cinema screens and streaming services is a dime a dozen these days in a saturated market that is more focused on quantity over quality, with even Pixar losing its way over recent years with a series of so-so and forced exercises and no one ever expected a modern day take on a feature length Mario film to break new narrative ground or try and reinvent the wheel that is so easy to turn for studios with an endless budget and beloved property but unlike its namesake in a game sense, this Mario is bereft of whimsy, wonder and Wario and one can’t help but feel as though once the rainbow road shine has worn off, this is a film that will be rarely spoken about or appreciated outside of the fact it hoodwinked the box office across the globe. 

As far as wins go, Jack Black makes for a fun if underused big bad in the form of Bowser and Anya Taylor-Joy’s Princess Peach makes for a far more well-rounded figure than the Princess we use to see in the most renowned of Mario games but really none of this matters a whole lot as The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a prime example of where Hollywood still goes wrong, trying so little yet becoming such a success, setting in motion a sad turning wheel that means audiences will continue too lap up products that they should be demanding more from, regardless of target audience or perceived aims.

Final Say – 

Nintendo fans will love it (like they do anything brand associated) and kids are going to believe they had a far better time than they in fact did in the long run but The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a charmless exercise in a low-ball feature film event that makes me sad for the future of other such properties we are now likely to see brought to life in a similar way. 

1 1/2 depressive Lumalee’s out of 5 

6 responses to “Film Review – The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

  1. “Perhaps it’s because I’m a nearly middle aged grump or perhaps I am just a bad person?” Maybe it is BOTH! Just kidding, of course! But you’re the first I’ve read, at least out of the reviewers I follow, that have hated this movie this much. As with most things there can be a variety of reasons, but a lot of it could be is the others might be the diehard Nintendo fans mentioned. It looks good enough for the kids, so I’ll watch it and see for myself. I’m curious as to how I will feel about it since I’ve played many of the games with them over the years, and enjoy them, but have never been a particular “fan” of the Mario franchise.

    Now the big question is, if I like it, does that mean you ARE a bad person? Maybe that is how we should rate someone’s integrity. If they don’t like a movie Tony likes they are terrible.

    • I honestly feel like there is something wrong with me in this instance mate ha. Everyone I speak too loved the film but despite being a Nintendo fan in a small way, I found this one really painful to sit through. One for the little ones only in my mind.

      • Welcome to the club of the sole voice of reason ha! At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m on the opposite end from everyone else.

  2. I haven’t seen it yet and I’m curious since I liked Angry Birds for example.
    BTW was this a typo or intentional pun? “…bought to life…”

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