The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) Review



The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a lot of silly fun with numerous great callbacks to the games and the world of Nintendo.

Plot: Portly plumber Mario (voiced by Christ Pratt) finds himself in the Mushroom Kingdom after chasing his brother Luigi who disappears down a strange green pipe.

Review: For a generation of video gamers, who would look through their family’s living room couch for quarters to feed into an arcade machine or took a paper route to save up money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System, Mario was Nintendo. Sure, there was Link, Simon Belmont, Samus Aran, and Mega Man, but say “Nintendo” to any kid, and they would gleefully shout “Mario!” The portly plumber with the mustache and red hat graced a shocking number of Nintendo games – I once had a book cataloging his random appearances, which was an eye-opener. Sega had Sonic, and Nintendo had Mario.

In other media, though, Mario had a spotty record. The Mario Bros. show with Lou Albano seems to be beloved by those who watched it, but the ’93 film was widely panned. I saw the movie in the theatre, and while I enjoyed Bob Hoskins’ turn as Mario, I knew that the movie was a poor example of the Super Mario Bros. universe. An animated film was the only way to properly show the zany and fantastical insanity of the Mario universe and properly realize characters like Bowser, Toad, the Goombas and the Shy Guys.

If you’re the type of filmgoer who loves animated movies to be a little adult in the themes, much like Pixar’s lineup, this is not your movie. There is almost no character development and the barest plot imaginable. There were moments when I wondered how we got to the scene I was watching on screen. What The Super Mario Bros. movie is, though, is a hell of a lot of fun.

You’ll have a blast if you’re a fan of the games (and frankly, if you’re not, why are you going to see this movie?). There are a ton of Easter eggs throughout the film – I found myself all the time saying, “Oh man, they put that in!” and “Wow, I didn’t think they’d do that!” Characters from the first three Super Mario games are in there, as well as characters from the Donkey Kong universe. You want some Smash Bros? It’s in there. You want some Mario Kart? It’s in there. I’m shocked they didn’t find a way to get Dr. Mario in there.

The voice work is fine, and most of the actors are unrecognizable in their performances. Chris Pratt doesn’t sound like Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy doesn’t sound like Anya Taylor-Joy, the actors really worked to sound like what their characters should be. The one exception is Seth Rogen, who voices Donkey Kong and, frankly, sounds like Seth Rogen. Then again, I’m not a fan of Seth Rogen and find he puts in minimal effort for everything, so it shouldn’t surprise.

The soundtrack is a joy. Of course, you have one of the best composers going today, Brian Tyler, at the helm, so you shouldn’t expect anything less. All the familiar and iconic themes from the games, the dungeon, in the water, the star, it’s all there. I don’t think it’s possible for them to have jammed any more in. The sound effects are there as well. I swear, if you’re a fan of the games, you’ll have one big smile on your face.

The animation was good, and at least I could see everything – it wasn’t like Into the Spider-Verse, where I thought the screen was glitching. The character designs are spot-on, and you’ll have no trouble identifying your favourite characters from the games.

If there’s anything you should take away from this review is that the movie is just sheer entertainment. Don’t go in looking for a terrific storyline or even a generic one – this is just one big, silly adventure starring one of the greatest characters from video game history. To think you’ll get anything else is setting yourself up for disappointment. So, grab a fire flower, sit down on your favourite green pipe, and enjoy!