I saw the Super Mario Bros movie last weekend with my daughter. She’d been invited to a friend’s birthday party where they had rented out a theater in the morning to watch the movie. The theater was one of those nice ones too with reclining seats and little fold-out tables.
This was the first movie my daughter had gone to in a theater and she was very excited to see it with her friends. She loved commenting on the movie and sharing her friends’ experiences watching it for the first time. They turned around and hid when Bowser showed up or squished together into the same seat to stay safe from him. They were jumping and shouting in the final scene when Mario and Luigi were bouncing on koopas and goombas. Great experience to finally have with my kid.
And the actual movie of course! Super Marios Bros starts off with a commercial for Mario and Luigi’s plumbing business. The actors talk in the typical exaggerated accents that is famous from the games while showing off their plumbing expertise. When the commercial concludes we see them watching it on a TV in a diner. Next to them is a man on a JumpMan arcade game who declares that, “I love tha’ accents! Wahoo!” The man is, of course, played by Charles Martinet, Mario’s voice actor from the games.
This was a bit of a trend in the movie. All the characters already have voice actors who have done consistent work on a massively popular franchise. Why recast them? I don’t think anyone went to see the movie because Chris Pratt or Seth Rogen were in it. I didn’t even notice that Keegan-Michael Key was the voice of Toad. All these big names do a great job, but I feel the same would’ve been true for the original actors. That said, moving away from the stereotypical accents was a good idea. I’m sure that the exaggerated accent would’ve gotten grating in an hour and a half movie with a LOT more dialogue than the games.
Mario and Luigi are pulled down a large pipe while doing some plumbing work. They end up in the Super Mario World where they must stop Bowser from destroying the Mushroom Kingdom and marrying Princess Peach. Mario trains in how to use power-ups and jump on things with Princess Peach while Luigi gets lost in “Luigi’s Mansion.” They ask for help from the Kong Kingdom before having a driving race with the Kongs and Bowser’s minions on their way back to the Mushroom Kingdom. The battle spills over into the real world before Mario and Luigi use the Super Star to defeat Bowser and save the day.
Yes, that’s the whole plot, but the video games have existed for decades. You already know the plot of this movie. You’re not going to see it for some cool twist. You’re going for the Pratt-falls, slapstick comedy, and Saturday morning cartoon action.
I think I would’ve still enjoyed the movie without my daughter, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. It’s a simple movie aimed at entertaining children. The plot is obvious. The characters are one-dimensional. There’s no riqsue comedy or anything like that. It’s a distillation of the games into movie form with a few love letter references to the various parts of the games that people know and love. They got everything except Mario Tennis.
So who should see the movie? Children, people who like really simple movies, or if you are a huge fan of the Mario games. I think the movie’s simplistic nature means it would be uninteresting to most others.