After the debacle, that was the live action of 1993 SuperMario brothers film adaptation, the creators of the new animated version clearly felt the need to restore the faith of the legions of fans of the wildly popular video game. While dedicated players will weigh in on whether the movie sufficiently fulfills that goal, The Super Mario Bros. movie feels like a labor of love that should pass any purist nitpicking with ease. It should also prove to be a big cash cow for co-producers Nintendo, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures, with sequels and spin-offs all but guaranteed.
While Matthew Fogel’s screenplay won’t win any awards, it builds a reasonable framework for the 90 minutes of near-nonstop mayhem that follows. The film provides an origin story for Mario (Chris Pratt) and his younger brother Luigi (Charlie Day), who were first seen as regular plumbers from Brooklyn who started their own businesses, much to the ridicule of their former boss, Spike (Sebastian Maniscalco). ). They even star in a TV commercial advertising their services, in which they speak with thick Italian accents they don’t actually have. (There was a lot of whining early on about Pratt not sporting the heavy accent used by the game’s old Mario, Charles Martinet, and this plot element seems cleverly designed to address. However, Pratt occasionally throws in a “Mamma mia! ” emphasis.)
The Super Mario Bros. movie
It comes down to
Effectively clears the stench of the live-action version.
After a funny slapstick episode involving a routine plumber’s job is turned into catastrophe by an aggressive little dog, the brothers take it upon themselves to try to fix a broken water pipe under the streets of Brooklyn. When Luigi falls into a mysterious pipe and disappears, Mario dives after him and finds himself in the magical Mushroom Kingdom. With the help of the gleeful Toad (Keegan Michael-Key), the first resident he encounters, Mario embarks on a mission to save his brother from the clutches of the evil Bowser (Jack Black), the fierce turtle leader of the Koopas, who plans to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom.
To that end, he must team up with the Mushroom Kingdom’s ruler, Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy, taking advantage of her sultry raspiness), who is definitely no shrinking fiddle when it comes to combat. Complicating matters is the fact that Bowser is obsessed with the princess, as evidenced by his impassioned rendition of a rock ‘n’ roll power ballad dedicated to her, the kind Kiss or Poison would have approved . That scene, which resembles a cheesy music video, is one of the funniest in the movie, thanks to Black’s impassioned vocals, who bring his Tenacious D-style A-game. His exuberant voice work takes the film to another level.
The film features one jam-packed sequence after another, culminating in Mario’s titanic battle with Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen, who sounds just like himself but is still hilarious), in which his determination and ingenuity are fully displayed. The fast-paced action effectively approximates the gaming experience; Brian Tyler’s equally frenetic soundtrack cleverly riffs on the game’s musical themes by composer Koji Kando, providing a fitting accompaniment.
The plot is as simple as it gets, and character development is clearly not a priority. Given Day’s great voice work as Luigi, it seems a shame that the character goes away for so long. But directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, creators of the Teen Titans Go! series, delivers a fairly faithful big-screen adaptation that, while there’s plenty of youthful humor in it, wisely doesn’t lean towards broad satire.
Fans will be delighted by the many Easter eggs liberally scattered throughout the event – I’m sure I missed the vast majority, but there was plenty of appreciative laughter and cheer at the press screening – including the vocal cameos from the original Mario voice artist Martinet and other game veterans.
As usual for Illumination movies, the brightly colored animation jumps into consistently appealing character and scenic designs. The solid 92-minute run time is another plus, especially for younger attention spans; this feels especially welcome when so many bloated animated films are closing in on the two-hour mark.