Alex Reviews "The Super Mario Bros. Movie"
Ever since the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System on my second birthday, Nintendo has been a global powerhouse and a household name, and with that came the name of “Mario”. Both have stood the test of time in all facets and avenues… except film. Even though there has been little effort since the dumpster fire that Super Mario Bros. was since its release almost exactly 30 years ago, The Super Mario Bros. is the film that should have always been the goal, and I’m glad they emphasized that point with “THE” on the title.
This IS an origin story as Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) are brothers just beginning their lives as independent plumbers. As they try to help stop a water leak in Brooklyn, they wind up deep underground with a pipe transporting them into the Mushroom Kingdom and the many worlds we have come to love within the best-selling video games.
OK, I am going to rip the Band-Aid off and get the one problem out of the way before we get to the good stuff: Chris Pratt is a bad casting choice. I understand that he brings star power (no pun intended) this film, but when he affects an Italian accent is incredibly cringe-worthy. Whenever he speaks normally, it is perfectly fine, but it is weird to swap between the two with no explanation. However, every other actor fits incredibly well and nails their deliveries. Day hilariously suits Luigi as the bumbling, goofy brother with Anya Taylor-Joy bringing depth and gravitas to the best version of Princess Peach I have ever seen. Seth Rogen essentially plays himself as Donkey Kong, but it is a seamless fit while Jack Black as Bowser takes arguably, the most iconic villain in gaming history and adds layers that I NEVER thought I would see to the point where I now cannot imagine a world where they don’t exist.
Take all of that and add the difficult task of taking an already beloved universe of characters and developing a quality story that does fan service while also being entirely new. In that vein, Matthew Fogel (Minions: The Rise of Gru) walks that tightrope with almost zero shaking. To say I was expecting a disaster was accurate, but this story was captivating and relatable. (This might take a new level of meaning once you see the film.)
Illumination Animation contains to be one of the most impressive studios in the world, and that streak continues with The Super Mario Bros. Movie. In multiple scenes, the environment or a character was so detailed, I could have sworn they mixed in some live-action elements. This is impressive enough to draw any viewer into this film, but paired with the strong script, it makes the experience more than “just watching a cartoon in a theater”.
Full bias intended, but the entire sound department and compositions by Brian Tyler should be given an Oscar right now. Whether blending the traditional game sounds into the world or adding just enough of the game’s composition into the score to clue the audience in to the setting, it was masterful from top to bottom. Luigi’s ringtone ALONE made me howl with joy.
If your jaw tends to hurt from smiling too much or your eyes burn because you cry from too much laughter, maybe The Super Mario Bros Movie isn’t for you. Personally, I laughed, cried, and was sore from smiling throughout, but most importantly I felt like I did the first time I turned on that Nintendo in Port St. Lucie, Florida. It was (and this is) pure joy.