The Super Mario Bros. Movie is based on the iconic character from the 1985 Nintendo video game. However, not to be confused with the 1993 live action film that had the tagline “This Ain’t No Game”.
This animated adventure follows two plumbers Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) after they’re accidently transported to the Mushroom Kingdom through a sewer pipe. After being separated during the trip – Luigi lands in the Dark Land and is captured by Bowser’s (Jack Black) koopas, while Mario lands near the castle and meets Toad (Keegan-Michael Key). With the help of Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), Mario plans to rescue Luigi and stop Bowser from using the Super Star to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom and marry Princess Peach.
The best part of The Super Mario Bros. Movie is the animation. It’s really good; it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen and is the one thing that makes the film engaging. It’s also paired with a fun score aka songs from the Super Mario Universe. Those two things form an excellent outline for an animated film.
Instead of a story about Mario learning to be a hero or a David vs. Goliath tale, the plot is overstuffed with nostalgia and easter eggs that don’t amount to much other an advertisement for Nintendo. It’s a heroes journey without a heart.
There are some comedic moments that keep the story moving along but those moments only push the audience towards the next nostalgic scene or iconic score. None of it is interesting or captivating – you never stay long enough in a moment to feel anything for these characters or their plight. Is as if the story doesn’t want you to stay too long in these moments, it would rather move you along to the next thing.
Because the animation is really good and the easter eggs will make you smile, there’s hope that a good story is around the corner but it never comes. You run around in a nostalgia circle for 90 minutes.
The one huge bright spot is Jack Black as Bowser. He’s as equally evil as he is ridiculous, and is easily the best character in the film. His musical numbers are some of the best scenes the film has to offer.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie has a few flashes but ultimately never sparks anything interesting. Kids will enjoy the animation and the over-the-top physical comedy. Mario fans will appreciate the nostalgia and smile at every easter egg. Most moviegoers will find themselves feeling meh and forget the movie moments after they walk out of the theater.