I’m about to make so many enemies. Okay, here goes.
It has been almost two years since Nintendo made waves online with the announcement of the voice cast for the Super Mario Bros. movie. Some choices were praised (Jack Black and Charlie Day), some were met with shrugs (Anya Taylor-Joy and Keegan-Michael Key) and some were met with hysterical laughter (Chris Pratt and Seth Rogen). Regardless of the quality of the voice cast, the movie had a whole new level of hype built around it.
It has been almost six months since the first trailer for the film was released. In that trailer, we finally got to hear Pratt’s voice for Mario and let’s just say, it made some waves. Anticipation was building, and I knew I needed to see this movie.
It saddens me deeply to report that “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is an incredibly dull affair. And no, you can’t use, “it’s just a kids’ movie” as an excuse to defend it. Animation can be, and should be, a medium for people of all ages to enjoy, not just children. And even more specifically, “kids’ movies” almost always have elements for adults/parents to enjoy. People complain all the time about not treating animation like a style for kids, so don’t do the same thing with this.
I digress, where was I? Going back and forth between nice things and mean things about this movie, there is a lot to analyze.
PRO: Animation. This one is a no-brainer for me. Illumination did a great job bringing the iconic characters to life on the big screen. The movie looks wonderful and lively.
CON: Story and Plot. Yeah, it’s a movie based on a game where all you do is run, break blocks and stomp on the occasional enemy, so I’m not sure what you could do in terms of making a compelling story, but this has an incredibly boring and generic plot: hero shows up in a magical new land and has a goal to achieve. Of course, there’s a big, scary villain.
PRO: Score. The score is pleasant enough, but then every so often they throw in a reworked version of a typical Mario game theme. It’s pretty awesome and really immerses you in the world of the movie.
CON: Humor. It definitely doesn’t have the same level of unbearable humor as other Illumination movies, but it doesn’t land for me.
PRO: Fan service. It’s really weird counting fan service as a pro, but it’s actually handled very well in this movie. None of the references feel forced or out of place. They were actually the more enjoyable moments of the film for me.
MIXED: The cast. This was, at least for me, the most interesting part of the film leading up to it. The cast list, as stacked as it is, features some extremely questionable decisions.
Pratt gives an odd performance as the titular plumber. It’s really hard to tell exactly what he’s trying to do with this performance, but once you get used to it, it’s fairly unremarkable.
Black and Day, playing Bowser and Luigi respectively, are the easy standouts among the cast. Black was definitely born to play the power-hungry dinosaur man.
Taylor-Joy and Key are very forgettable. Key actually has his voice pitched up for Toad, and his personality very rarely shines through the filter.
Surprisingly, Rogen was pretty good. He was definitely the right choice for Donkey Kong, as laughable as it sounds. Fred Armisen, who plays his father, gives what is easily the worst performance in the movie, however.
Ultimately, this is a movie that doesn’t seem to justify its existence. There are a ton of references fans will eat up, so if all you’re looking for is a mindless popcorn flick that will please your fan brain, you will probably enjoy this. If you aren’t a huge Mario fan, then it will be the most generic movie you could possibly ask for.
“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a boring, basic family film, dressed up in blue overalls and a red hat.