Super Mario Bros Movie: Let’s-A-No


Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

After all these years, our chubby Italian boy finally made it to the big screen. The Super Mario Bros. Movie takes the world of the iconic turtle-stomping plumber and mixes it with a (Super) star studded cast. The result is 90 minutes that feel more like something parents would put on in the minivan on a trip to get the kids to pipe down, but it’s a fun family movie for sure. 

This movie follows brothers Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) as they quit their jobs as construction workers and look to hit it big as plumbers in Brooklyn, setting up their new business to their father’s disapproval. When they finally find their big break by fixing a faulty water main that has much of Brooklyn underwater, they get separated and sucked into the Mushroom Kingdom. It’s now up to Mario to work with his new friends Toad (Keegan Michael-Key) and Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) to save Luigi from the clutches of Bowser (Jack Black) and free the kingdom of his presence as he goes on the warpath.

A Mario movie adaption sounds like an easy home run, but sadly this movie doesn’t quite 1-up its competition. It throws as much at you as a Mario Kart race but barely gives us enough time to process. By the time I was done giggling about the fact that Luigi’s phone ringtone is the Gamecube jingle, some bystander on the street yelled “Ay I’m walkin’ here!” and I lost my focus again. It’s obvious that the people in charge of this movie appreciate the source material, but they don’t give us any time to appreciate what they made. Every gag is lightning fast, and every plot development is condensed to its most efficient, concise version, which robs the audience of the joys of getting to see Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom brought to life. It feels more rollercoaster than a movie. 

The voice cast is also super inconsistent. More Charlie Day is always a good thing, and the deeply cynical blue cartoon star, played to hilarious effect by Juliet Jelenic, made me giggle; Chris Pratt’s a really good voice actor, people forget (Vocally emotive, endearing to the point where he manages to morph his image as an action hero and make us root for him as a true underdog). Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, despite his trademark laugh and, I hate to say it, Anya Taylor Joy as the iconic Princess Peach are not bringing it. Jack Black is a delight. He reinvents Bowser as a lovelorn warlord who’s prone to belting out ballads to weather his yearning desire for Princess Peach. He steals every scene he’s in. For every Jack Black as Bowser though, it feels like there’s always a Fred Armisen as a Cranky Kong that sounds like Bernie Sanders. 

Even though the movie wasn’t super, this is barely a movie, and it takes absolutely no risks with the Mario text. There are no surprises here, but you know what, all that said, I still had a ton of fun! I paid to watch him stomp the turtles, eat the pasta, and shout “Mamma Mia!”and that’s exactly what I got.