Directed by: Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic
Written by: Matthew Fogel
Starring: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen
Released: April 6, 2023
Grade: B

The Super Mario Bros. Movie

It’s back-to-back weeks of reinvigorated stinkers.  Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves arrived in cinemas last Thursday and was considerably better than the lame 2000 effort.  This time around, we have The Super Mario Bros. Movie which is trying to improve on the live-action box-office flop, starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, released back in 1993.

The original arcade game was by the Japanese gaming company Nintendo back in 1983.  While this film is likely to tweak the curiosity of long-time fans and gamers, I’d describe it as a movie targeted more at kids than adults.  The story is straight forward, the characters are simple, and the humour is easy to understand.  The bright colours and fun sound effects are another reason it will resonate with the younger crowd.

Writer Matthew Fogel (Minions: The Rise of Gru) wastes no time introducing us to the two heroes, Mario (Pratt) and Luigi (Day).  They’re hat-wearing plumbers from Brooklyn, New York who, despite a flashy television advertisement, are struggling to get their small business off the ground.  This doesn’t seem to be a surprise to their extended family who aren’t offering much support.

Those problems will soon be overshadowed by a set of much bigger ones.  They get sucked down a green sewer pipe and end up in an entirely different universe filled with cute toadstools.  The pair become separated (a traditional plot device) with Mario encountering an assortment of characters in search of his brother.  The list includes a wise princess (Taylor-Joy), a fire-breathing turtle (Black), and the showboating Donkey Kong (Rogen).

In making the film as likeable as possible, the directing duo of Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic (Teen Titans Go!) have gone with an array of classic songs including Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero”, and A-ha’s “Take on Me”.  These tunes, along with the bombastic music score of Brian Tyler and Koji Kondo, provide an appropriate backdrop to the hectic action scenes.  Of the voice cast, Jack Black has the most fun as the villainous, mood-shifting turtle who wants to marry the princess and rule the world.

As the tentpole animated feature of the Easter school holidays, The Super Mario Bros. Movie won’t blow you away emotionally… but it offers a tight 92-minutes of entertainment to keep children occupied.