Ever since I saw the trailers for The Super Mario Bros. Movie, I could see how Illumination Studios ((Despicable Me, Sing) worked closely with Nintendo and Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto to bring the famed gaming franchise to the big screen for a second time – only now with much better results.
I’m so glad to say that waiting nearly four decades to see the perfect Mario Bros. film has paid off, with fun and adventure from the games popping up in every frame. It’s not only the best video game film released thus far, but also one of the best family movies, animated or otherwise, to be released as well.
The adventure begins with the villainous Bowser (played to perfection by Jack Black) destroying a penguin kingdom to steal a magic Super Star, in hopes of using it to win the heart of Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) and marry her. Of course if she says no, then he can always use the power of the Star to destroy the Mushroom Kingdom and move on to the next.
Meanwhile we enter the lives of our favorite plumbers from Brooklyn, Mario and Luigi (Chris Pratt and Charlie Day who sound great, and yes, they poke at the ‘It’s-ahh-me’ accents at one point). They’re doing their best to start their own plumbing business, but sadly with little success. Not long after they mess up their first major job, Mario sees an opportunity to make up for it and save Brooklyn in the process, literally, as a major pipe burst threatens to flood the city.
Giving it their best shot, the brothers make their way down into the sewer system and try to stop the leak from getting worse, but instead crash through a wall into a sealed off section of the sewer. Soon they’re sucked into one of the famous magic pipes and whisked away to other worlds. Mario ends up in the Mushroom Kingdom while Luigi lands in Bowser’s part of the land.
It’s not long before Mario comes across the kind and heroic Toad (an unrecognizable Keegan-Michael Key who does a surprisingly good job) who leads him to Princess Peach’s castle after Mario tells him what happened and needs to find Luigi. The princess is working on a plan to stop Bowser from destroying her kingdom by seeking help from Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) and some of the soldiers from his kingdom.
Peach trains Mario to use some of the famous power-ups we all know and love such as the mushroom to make him bigger and stronger, which comes in handy when Mario has to face off against Donkey Kong to see if the Mushroom Kingdom is worthy of their help.
From here the film goes into one fun misadventure after another as the Princess, Mario, Toad, and Donkey Kong go on their quest to stop Bowser and find Luigi. Of course with this being a Nintendo movie, expect to see all sorts of fun cameos from some of their games along with plenty of characters and locations from the Super Mario Bros. titles, such as Mario Kart, Galaxy, and more.
To say I had a good time watching this is a huge understatement as I was in love with every moment of the movie. It felt so good seeing these characters I grew up with on the big screen and captured so perfectly. You can see all of the love and respect Illumination has for Nintendo and their flagship franchise as there’s so many little moments you’ll come across where they completely nailed the animation and then some.
A perfect example is one moment from the battle between Mario and Donkey Kong where Mario gets the Cat suit power-up and beats up DK some, only to sit on top of him and slightly dig his claws into his back like a cat does to carpet. It’s one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” bits, but it’s those moments that reminds us why we love animation and the games in the first place.
The soundtrack is equally on point as Koji Kondo’s famous theme along with other snippets of Mario game music are strewn all over the film and highlight what’s happening on the screen nicely. I also love the 80s nostalgia from tracks such as A-Ha’s Take on Me, Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero, and such. I also appreciated such callbacks to the classic Super Mario Bros. Super Show from the late 80s complete with the intro rap song from it, and more that just kept a constant smile on my face.
I could go on all day and night about how awesome, magical, and amazing this film is, but it’s just better if you experience the joy that is The Super Mario Bros. Movie for yourself. It’s just good ole’ plain fun at the movies that fans young and old, as well as newcomers will love and want to see it again and again, all while yelling “Waa-hoo” in the process.