Super Mario Bros movie review – a roller coaster of a film which virtually steers the Mario Cart on track

Posted on 19 April 2023
By Pierce King
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Billed as The Super Mario Bros movie fans have been waiting 30 years for… critics are divided and the jury is out as to whether this is a must watch on the big screen, or worth waiting for a bit longer to watch from the comfort of your home and own sofa.

No pipes to fall down there are there? The first of many questions this film poses…

Fans of classic computer games, no doubt leave the big screen adaptations of their favourite pixelated heroes wondering why it just doesn’t work? 

Clearly there’s something about how the rules of cinema storytelling, just don’t suit taking the imagery and POV gamers come to hold dear to their hearts.

This gets lost in the transfer and the need to crowbar extra narrative in for the potential uninitiated friends and family of said fans, is often badly executed. 

Most cinema goers looking to enjoy this movie, most likely won’t have a memory of the 1993 fantasy adventure flick starring Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper. Nor should they. 

Despite its best intentions, that film is best consigned to a category labelled: ‘VHS era Friday night rental gone wrong, but you just had to watch it.’

This animated entry into the Nintendo cinematic cannon is well executed from the get go. Watching Mario and Luigi set up their own business, record a hilarious TV advert with bad Italian accents and get ribbed by their family, over a delightful dinner setting is magical. 

So is their entry into the games world the fans will recognise. Everything is great right up until we run into Donkey Kong, deftly voiced by stoner icon (and we presume Mario Kart game playing legend) Seth Rogen.

Their battle and trip on a speedy cart is a manic delight. But the film loses focus straight after this point.

Jack Black’s vocal turn as Bowser is criminally underused, given the run time of the movie.

Jack has one musical number, as Bowser fantasises about winning the heart of the Princess. He’s just misunderstood – like all villains after all. 

He is a perfect comedic foil to Chris Pratt’s mellow fluid tones of Mario and they should share more screen time together.

This reviewer had high hopes for this movie, given the strength of the vocal cast and director Aaron Horvath, who co-created the excellent Teen Titans Go! But sometimes a movie just can’t equal the sum of all its parts. 

Sad, but true. The main problem is there just isn’t enough of an engaging narrative to hold your attention for the length of the movie. 

Apart from setting the scene that Brooklyn plumber Mario and his brother fall down a pipe, whilst trying to save the city from a flood of epic proportions (is it related to what’s happening in the land below?.. this is never explained)… 

Mario is pulled into an adventure to save a race of Mushrooms, ruled by a human Princess (how did she fall down a pipe as a baby, we just don’t know?) He jumps in with a wild sense of duty and gusto which is hard to explain.

Apart from the fact that his younger, taller and more handsome brother Luigi is somewhere else in this nightmare and just might be able to be saved. 

So many questions!? Perhaps it’s best just to leap in the air, eat a mini mushroom (are they sentient too? Surely like most fungi in fantasy lands they will be?)… Power Up and shout:”let’s-a-go!” “Mamma Mia!” and “It’s a mee!” In a bad Italian accent, likely to cause offence to a younger, politically correct audience of Millennials. 

If you’re a fan of Mario or Nintendo games in general, you will get some enjoyment out of it. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
We watched this flick in the spacious and comfortable surroundings of The Box and their ample sofas in FACT’s independent cinema, on Wood Street, Liverpool. 

A perfect place for soaking up filmic adventures. Our two young boys enjoyed having a sofa to themselves and being able to stretch out and feel like the space was just for them.

To book seats visit:  FACT Liverpool