Title: Super Mario Bros. Movie
Release Date: 4/5/2023
Run Time: 92 mins.
Starring: Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Khary Payton as Penguin King, Chris Pratt as Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, and Jack Black as Bowser aka King Koopa
Synopsis: Based on the iconic Nintendo video game that debuted in September of 1985, brothers Mario and Luigi journey from New York to the Mushroom Kingdom to stop the ruthless King Koppa and his goons.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a good watch for not just fans of the video games, but also families who simply love wholesome fun. From the film’s start, audiences are treated with easter eggs from the franchise; even the opening theme from the popular Mario Bros Super Show is reimagined in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. It also paid tribute to extended Mario Bros games like Mario Cart, Luigi’s Mansion, and the arcade classic Donkey Kong. I definitely had flashbacks of my younger years of game-playing with side-scrolling two-player modes. The directors and crew understood the assignment for this film, and I’m glad they took their time to put together a quality project. No, The Super Mario Bros. Movie won’t win an Academy Award for Best Screen Play, but it is entertaining.
I enjoyed the world-building and beautiful visuals that brought the scenes to life. The editing team should certainly be commended for the effort made to bring the audience into the various worlds. I was especially pulled into the vibrant and fun Mushroom Kingdom.
The ‘power-ups’ was one aspect of the film that kept me on the edge of my seat because, just like in the game, the characters were not sure what power they’d received. Seeing the ‘power-ups’ on screen also brought me joy because I always wondered what they would look like outside of what the 90s live action film portrayed.
Mario and Luigi
When the announcement of Chris Pratt voicing Mario was met with unfavorable posts, the popular opinion on Twitter and other social media platforms was that the film wouldn’t be well-received. Unlike the fiasco surrounding ‘Ugly Sonic’, Pratt’s voice acting fits the character. The film even pokes fun at the voice of Mario to let the audience know that the writers and directors heard the rumblings on social media.
Charlie Day as Luigi was a great fit as well. Unfortunately, his screen time was not as long as Mario’s. After giving Mario the time needed to explore the new world in and outside of the Mushroom Kingdom, the movie could’ve run the risk of being too long had Luigi’s character been explored further. I’m a fan of Charlie Day, so I guess that’s why I wanted to hear more of his character, but it works here. Perhaps we’ll see a Luigi spinoff/sequel in the future.
I liked how the film portrayed Mario’s and Luigi’s families; they were all funny and gave the audience an idea of the brothers’ upbringing. Their father’s criticism of their aspirations does help push them and give them a little more motivation. It allows the audience to sympathize with the characters who are striving to achieve their goals. I’m sure we can all relate to that somehow.
Now just in case you are worried you wouldn’t hear Mario’s “Yipppeee!”, rest assured you will! The film has excellent sound engineering as the sound effects you grew up listening to from the games are heavily featured in this film.
Toad, Princess, and Donkey Kong
Keegan-Michael Key voiced Toad, the first to befriend Mario once he arrives in the magical world. His voice was altered in the film so it’s barely recognizable, but he had some funny scenes. I was hoping for a little more from the comedic genius, but given the character, it makes sense that he didn’t have too much screen time.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach was well cast, but I felt that some of the mysteries about her origin could’ve been explored more. I have a few unanswered questions.
I was not sure how Donkey Kong (voiced by Seth Rogen) would fit into this film, but he served as a frenemy for Mario. He is powerful and arrogant but good hearted…kind of reminds me of Johnny Bravo but as an ally for Mario and Princess Peach. Now that I have seen the film I think Rogen was the best pick for the character. The director even uses Rogen’s signature laugh to add to the character’s personality.
Khary Payton, Y’all!
Some of you know voice-over veteran Khary Payton, known for his work as Teen Titans‘ Cyborg and Young Justice’s Aqualad. His dialogue is minimal in the film, but just enough to satisfy his fans. In this project, he voiced the Penguin King. You can catch some of his dialogue in the current trailers on Youtube, but you’ll have to watch the film to get the full effect. If there is a sequel or spin-off, they should definitely bring his character back. Fingers crossed.
Bowser the Bad Ass
Jack Black as the voice of Boswer aka King Koopa was perfectly cast. He stood out as the menacing antagonist with a soft spot for Princess Peach. Of course, random singing solos by the shelled fire-breathing villain had me cracking up because, duh, it’s Jack Black! This version of Bowser is intentionally cartoony to balance out his sinister deeds, unlike the version played by Dennis Hopper in the 90s. Trust me when I say that I like Dennis Hopper as an actor, but the portrayal was awful and I credit that to the writing.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is SO worth watching, I may go back this weekend for a second viewing to see if I missed anything! It’s a hysterical, satisfying, and nostalgic good time. I am unsure if a sequel is necessary, but I am interested in a spin-off for Donkey Kong. See The Super Mario Bros. Movie in theaters on April 5th, 2023.