Whether you’re old enough to remember him as “Jumpman” or young enough to have played tennis with him, you most likely know Nintendo’s beloved mustachioed mascot, Mario. As an icon not only for Nintendo but for video games themselves, there have been many iterations of the red Italian plumber. Some have gone over well, such as “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!” from 1989. Others have not, such as 1993’s “Super Mario Bros.” After that film’s catastrophic (yet memorable) failure, Nintendo kept any film’s rights close to heart. The Sony hack in 2014 exposed Sony’s years-long plans to make a Mario movie. The information flew somewhat under the radar for years, until that fateful Nintendo Direct in February of 2021.
All seemed well at the Nintendo Direct live stream when Nintendo Representative Director and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto surprised the audience by announcing not only the release date for North America, but the American voice cast as well. Viewers were left in bewilderment from the first cast member to the last. The choice of Chris Pratt for the role of the lovable plumber was an absolute shock to fans everywhere, as many people thought the voice of Mario since 1991, Charles Martinet, would be Mario again. While each casting choice was a shock in its own right, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong was the next whirlwind for viewers. Imagining the goofy, comedic Seth Rogen as the strong, imposing gorilla was more than a challenge. The best part of the casting came with the announcement that Jack Black would be voicing Bowser, Mario’s turtle-esque nemesis. Black’s intensity is perfect for the daunting Koopa. It also didn’t help that the film was being helmed by Illumination, a studio known for sub-par movies.
For a while, the general public completely dismissed the movie, not believing it could live up to the magic of the games. People’s opinions began to change when the first trailer was released. The film’s stellar animation began to intrigue and impress regular viewers and fans alike.
The film surrounds our heroic plumber and his brother equally famous brother Luigi, who are trying to jumpstart their new plumbing business. When trying to stop a catastrophic flood, the brothers are pulled into a brand-new world. Mario lands in the Mushroom Kingdom, while Luigi lands in the dark lands. Separated from his brother, Mario teams up with the iconic Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy, Queens Gambit) to rescue him from the clutches of the Koopa King.
With many references fans will enjoy, the film is anything if not fun. Top-tier animation and many hilarious moments lead ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ to be a strong 7.5 out of 10 for this critic. The film’s biggest flaws lie in the pacing department. The journey seems to move far too fast from one action-filled fight scene to an earnest conversation between Donkey Kong and Mario. Obviously, Charlie Day and Jack Black thrive in their respective roles. Chris Pratt also pleasantly surprises viewers with a decent performance.
The film won’t be most people’s cup of mushroom tea, especially those who aren’t die-hard fans. I mean, it’s quite confusing seeing a grown man fight a talking gorilla in a cat suit. If, however, you’re looking for a fun, family film filled with brotherly love, you’ll definitely enjoy this movie. I mean, Jack Black sings a ballad to Princess Peach. What’s not to love?