The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) Review

The conclusion of the epic saga


Mario and friends are ready for the movie! (from left to right) senior Owen Frank, junior Max Hayes, senior Rory Galbraith, junior Nakhi Kitchens pose solemnly for this great moment in world history.

Rory Galbraith, Chief of News

Mario Mario is back on the big screen. Anticipated by movie and gaming fans alike, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” marks the Nintendo icon’s first time in cinemas this century. After the initial reveal, the voice cast doubts and the extreme amount of marketing the film is finally out in theaters. What a memorable ride it has been leading up to the date but does it live up to that hype?

Is this movie filled with subtle and thoughtful characterization for its central cast? No. Will it win any awards or even praise from professional film critics? No. This film (more so an event) is not a thought provoking epic but rather a roller coaster thrill ride for the whole family.

Emulating the spirit of the source material, Mario is about fun at the end of it all. No Mario game has a super deep plot. They provide necessary context to get you to the point of it all, the game. The pure joy that results from jumping around as an Italian plumber and fighting bad guys without a care in the world about their motivations or their complex characteristics. The fun in the movie comes from shutting off your brain and having a good time.

There are plenty of subtleties in the movie through the use of easter eggs and references. For fans of Mario, this movie hits to your core. So many nods to so many different games in the plumber’s long history. Iconic titles like “Super Mario 64” and “Super Mario 3D World” get plenty of visual representation throughout from the variety of enemies and choreography of the cast while titles like “Super Mario Sunshine” and “Super Mario Galaxy” get cheeky one liners and musical odes at some point. It was evident how everyone behind this project loves Mario as much as I do.

The music is pure bliss (except for the licensed tracks which will be covered later). The action is on par with animation greats like “Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse” and last year’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” The animation is spectacular for Illumination where they usually reuse assets and constantly budget their animation. But everyone and their mom knows what we really need to discuss, the voice acting. Do the voices fit these iconic characters in a feature film? These voices have already been pre-established and beloved by fans in the games so did Hollywood and Illumination mess it up?

Jack Black Bowser Charlie Day Luigi and Seth Rogen Donkey Kong will forever be in my mind as the correct choices. These actors are supreme in emulating the spirit of these characters. Anya Taylor-Joy Peach and Chris Pratt Mario are inoffensive picks that brought a lot of energy to the roles for as much time they were on screen. Keegan-Michael Key Toad exists. The only performance that I disliked was Fred Armisen Cranky Kong, who sounded more like a sarcastic king than his more iconic role in the games as a cooky old coot in a rickety shack. The Donkey Kong series representation in this movie was lacking, with very little musical references from the ape’s games. Hopefully the success of this movie results in a standalone Seth Rogen Donkey Kong movie which would get my hyped all over again.

Praise aside, this has some glaring flaws. The presence of licensed music like “Take on Me” ruins the atmosphere of the Kong Kingdom scene it is in and sticks out for a viewer that is expecting a Donkey Kong track! Other than the weird usage of licensed tracks, the movie does not really feel like a story and more like a reason for references to be made. It is still a fun time but the movie loses all mystery and a lot of its charm upon rewatch. It is still 100% the best Illumination movie ever made and I hope the “Nintendo Multiverse” will continue to encapsulate the charm and fun of the games on the silver screen.

4 out of 5 Mario Points