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  • Writer's picturePatrick Mooty

FILM REVIEW: The Super Mario Bros. Movie

A film over 40 years in the making (or a mere 30 years if you’ve been counting since its previous big screen adaptation), The Super Mario Bros. Movie is an animated adaptation of the beloved video game franchise. True to form, it follows the standard Mario plot: when a loved one is kidnapped, the little Italian plumber must go on an adventure to save them, encountering all the strange characters and worlds we recognise from the games along the way.

Brought to us by Illumination, the studio behind Despicable Me and Minions, the first thing The Super Mario Bros. Movie gets right is the look. Say what you will about their previous efforts, Illumination were probably the best pick for bringing the world of Mario to life, almost resembling one extended, high-res video game cutscene (in the best way). The film also avoids the pratfalls of previous video game adaptations by not updating the characters and the worlds to look realistic or trying to explain how this world works. Mario looks like Mario, Luigi looks like Luigi, and of course a pipe in Brooklyn can transport them to a Mushroom Kingdom. No questions asked.

Criticised upon first announcement, Chris Pratt is fine as the voice of Mario, the film cleverly rationalising early on the lack of an emphasised Italian accent that we are so used to hearing from this character. Charlie Day is pitch perfect as Mario’s cowardly but good-hearted brother Luigi, their relationship serving as the emotional pull of the movie when it is focused on, which is unfortunately not enough; Seth Rogen is loveable as Donkey Kong; and Jack Black is nearly unrecognisable as Bowser, adopting a husky, villainous voice alongside his Tenacious D musical stylings.

From power-ups and side-scrolling action scenes to Mario Kart and the classic theme tunes incorporated into an updated score by Brian Tyler, The Super Mario Bros. Movie should please fans with all the references to the games that it manages to squeeze in. Getting by mostly on nostalgia, the film does not challenge its simplistic video game plot in any way. It is clear how the film will play out once Mario gets to Mushroom Kingdom and, despite this most likely being exactly what audiences wanted, it makes the 92-minute runtime feel longer.

At its best, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is an adaptation of the video game franchise that fans have been waiting decades for; at its worst, it’s just a lot of simplistic, nostalgia-fuelled fun. They may only be able to get away with a plot this basic just the once, but even if any potential sequels don’t live up to this one, or if this is the only Mario movie we get going forward, we can at least look back on The Super Mario Bros. Movie as a fairly faithful one-off adaptation of this beloved franchise.

Rating: 7/10

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