Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The Adequate Mario Bros. Movie

The 8-bit plumber who launched a franchise gets his own big budget animated movie in Illumination's The Super Mario Bros. Movie. You can tell Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, the team that gave us the more successful Teen Titans GO! To the Movies, have genuine affection for the Super Mario franchise and the script finds some clever ways to work various gameplay elements into the story. It's the story, however, that falls a bit short. Even at only 92 minutes, the film runs out of gas, noticeably dragging in spots. You could easily trim 20 minutes off its runtime.

That's not to say there isn't plenty to enjoy. The renderings of the characters and world is terrific. And, when the story is moving at high-speed there are plenty of enjoyable moments for fans of all ages inspired by several of the various Mario properties over the years from the original game to Super Mario Kart. And, in a twist from the original game, Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) gets an upgrade as hero while recasting Luigi (Charlie Day) as the damsel in distress, so to speak, this time around.

Transported from Brooklyn, New York, through a magic pipe, Mario (Chris Pratt) finds himself in the Mushroom Kingdom and separated from his brother Luigi who had the misfortune to appear in Bowser's (Jack Black) domain. Pratt works fine as our unlikely hero, and doesn't overplay the exaggerated accent which, while enjoyable in small doses, could have grown insufferable over 92 minutes. Black is having fun with the role that ties in the big boss' obsession for a certain princess to his quest for power in humorous ways. With Peach and Toad (Keegan-Michael Key), Mario will search for his brother and look for allies to stop Bowser's conquest eventually discovering the hero within.

While offering some really fun moments at times, overall the film is an adequate celebration of the games that inspired it. For me, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is perfectly fine as a one-time viewing experience. It's not likely a movie I'd go back to soon (if ever), but it was was a film I enjoyed for the most part which played on my nostalgia for the early days of the plumber's video game heroics as well as Mario Kart. There's something here for fans of various stages of the franchise, even if by the end you may wish you were playing the Mario game of your choice rather than passively viewing this version of it.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: The Super Mario Bros. Movie
  • IMDb: link

No comments: