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The Super Mario Bros. Movie

When you wouldn't go pay to see something in theaters unless your best friends are going too. Can't deny that part of me wanted to.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie
(2023) - Directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic
Family / Action-Adventure / Portal Fantasy / Comedy
"We're the Mario Brothers, and plumbing's our game!
We're not like the others who get all the fame!
If your sink is in trouble, you can call us on the double!
We're faster than the others, you'll be hooked on the Brothers!


Should I run some research and statistics here on MoFo on how many people here grew up with at least one Mario game, or should I just pull a random high percentage out of my butt? Because what we're dealing with here is not necessarily a unique case for the art of adaptation, but very unique for a video game movie adaptation. Why? Because, big surprise, the adaptations haven't been so faithful up to this point. Alice? Tom Wachowski? These characters are thrown in the movies with cheap "bring the video game to our logical world" crap all the time. So how does the Mario movie handle it?

So, Mario and Luigi are Italian-Americans who used to work for a guy called Foreman Spike who has his own wrecking crew. During a flood, they try to go to the sewers to fix it and find a warp pipe into the Mushroom Kingdom... at least Mario does. Luigi ends up in Bowser's kingdom, and is held hostage. Mario teams up with our badass but still underdeveloped Princess Peach to gather the Kong army against Bowser and his army of koopas, goombas, spinies, shy guys and bullet bills before Bowser uses the power star to force Peaches to marry him.

Which brings me to something I've never done before. I'm gonna quote a movie twice in my review.

"Peaches, peaches, peaches peaches peaches..."

So we're looking at a pretty damn thin plot here. There isn't a lot of character development, as most of the characters pretty much just give us what we know. Mario heads into danger heroically, Luigi's a chicken, Bowser's... essentially evil Jack Black (let's be honest), and Peach is just inches away from being a blatant Mary Sue with her skills being justified by living in the Mushroom Kingdom her whole life and living a life of high-jumping action. So not quite Rey, thankfully. She DID have her own game where she rescued Mario, so it's still faithful.

Now that the biggest flaws are out of the way. I legit think you should BUY THIS MOVIE! Like freakin' Cheat Commandos, buy all its playsets and toys for cryin' out loud! THIS MOVIE IS WAY TOO MUCH FUN! I have acquired a very serious respect for this movie for finally reversing the video game film situation, and doing so seemingly effortlessly. This is a love letter to Mario fans, and it deserves to be seen and even owned by Mario fans. This movies feels like... a compliment from Nintendo to its fans.

The Mario Movie is certainly not here to give you a thick plot with a lot of emotional subtext. That might be a moviemaking flaw in its own right, but it's certainly not Mario to do that. You want an adaptation with heavy emotional subtext? Go find the brilliant Ian Flynn and actually convince him to stop working on Sonic (if he wrote a Sonic movie I would have an eternal boner). But this is MARIO. We're here to stomp on some goombas, collect a few power-ups and meet some nostalgic characters. And this movie delivers in quite literal full force.

The Mario movie doesn't give a rat's hairy ass about logic. This is a video game world. There's as much logic in the Mushroom Kingdom as there is in Wonderland, and the movie rolls with that logic so hard it's a freakin' pastry. Mario's hitting boxes and collecting power-ups from all over the franchise, even going back into the NES days, which isn't a surprise but still highly appreciated and very well directed. Certain power-up and music combinations punched me with Dragon Ball Z waves of nostalgia.

This brings me to my next point. Don't let marketing and genre-tagging fool you. This is an ACTION movie. They made a perfectly kiddy and fun action movie with some of the finest choreography I have ever seen, partially due to its video-game logic and direction combined with action spectacle to create sequences that are both perfectly faithful to the games and respectful to the legacy. This action is incredible.

One mixed bag is the casting choices. I wasn't really amazed by Chriss Pratt's Mario or Charlie Day's Luigi. Keegan-Michael Key did his best with Toad, but the character himself was too simple. And Anna-Taylor Joy is just playing an average strong woman in the movies. I found nothing unique about Peach or amazing about her simple and easy performance.

But there are some clear-cut gems. I repeat, Jack Black and Bowser are very much the same person, so this was extremely impressive, especially when paired with the brilliant handling of his facial expressions. Black and Bowser were flawless in all respects. And still, Fred Armisen and Seth Rogen were able to effortlessly bring out the best in Cranky Kong and Donkey Kong to the point where I am hyped for the potential Donkey Kong Country movie (placing all bets, will Donkey and Funky have a pec dancing competition?) And for the short time he had, I really liked Kevin Michael Richardson's performance as the scraggly and weak Kamek. I mean, half this guy's roles are Captain Gantu, and he nails this without even trying.

OK, for such a thin plot, my jaw has never dropped so much in one movie. The Mario Movie might not have broken the video game curse to a few movie goers, but it certainly reversed the problem, and capitalized on the strengths of faithfulness. I guarentee you'll have at least one wave of nostalgia punch you in this movie. Even if you don't see it in theaters, you gotta see it.

= 81/100

Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic need 2 movies for an average score.