The Super Mario Bros. Movie – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic
Starring: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, Fred Armisen
In cinemas April 5th
The last attempt to adapt this game, featuring the famous moustachioed plumber, was a live-action version 30 years ago. Recently while hosting Saturday Night Live, TV treasure Pedro Pascal performed in a sketch that saw him play the titular Mario and it was hilarious. It was so good that it left me hoping that we would get that version as an adaptation.
However, this big-screen offering eschews live action in favour of animation and features Chris Pratt as the voice of Mario and Charlie Day as his brother Luigi. The pair are Brooklyn plumbers who find themselves flushed away to the magical kingdom of the mushroom world (as you do). Almost immediately, Luigi finds himself captured by the megalomaniac turtle Bowser (Jack Black) and Mario must team up with Princess Peach (Anya Taylor Joy) and Donkey Kong (Seth Rogan) to try and get his brother back and save the kingdom.
It is a long time since I actually played any of the Mario games but anyone who has even merely dabbled in them will find themselves recalling the different elements. This remains very faithful to the source material as they overcome the various obstacles thrown at them.
The script lacks nuance and you won’t find any Pixar-style double entendre in this. However, the nostalgia factor should keep adults engaged while children will love the riot of colour and chaos. It’s a pretty basic story, after all, computer games in the 80s weren’t known for their complex narratives, but at 90 minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome.
The cast all gamely (see what I did there) and despite criticism of Pratt’s accent after the trailer was released, they do make it work and people shouldn’t be offended. However, ironically the real star of the show is a um… star called Luma who is imprisoned with Luigi. This delightfully cute creature spends its days having an existential crisis and spouting hilarious reflections on the pointlessness of existence.
This is a bit of throwaway fun. It’s not a classic by any means and once the nostalgia rush wears off you probably won’t find yourself rewatching it, but the frenetic pace and a fabulous soundtrack ensure that this is a fun distraction for 90 minutes. It doesn’t quite seem sure if it’s pitching itself at children or adults and if you absolutely hate the game this will do nothing to change that, but as a fluffy popcorn movie, this does its job.
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