Movie Review Tag 1Super Mario Bros. has been one of the most popular video games for nearly 40 years, and watching the joyous, colorful new film concoction, it’s easy to see why. It’s not just that the story of two brothers getting trapped in a portal is fun for kids. It’s the added notion that two brothers can stick together no matter what obstacle is in their path, even if it’s a villain named Bowser. Directed by Aaron Horvarth and Michael Jelnic, Super Mario Bros. gains a lot from its message of brotherly love.

Those who play video games know how bad these updates can be (do we even need to mention the live action Super Mario movie from 1993?). Fans are tired of seeing their favorite IP ruined on screen at this point. But this one stays true to the source material visually and narratively, and it’s packed with so many easter eggs that one has to wonder if the Easter release date is some sort of meta joke.

Anyone who has played the game will recognize the callbacks, from the title card to the intro of Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day), who arrive on screen to Koji Kando’s original score. Against a backdrop of Brooklyn apartments, the pair set out on their very first plumbing gig, which suitably lands them in hot water.

When Luigi falls down a pipe and disappears, Mario embarks on a mission to save his brother from the clutches of Bowser (Jack Black), the turtle intent on taking over Mushroom Kingdom. With the help of Princess Peach (Anya-Taylor Joy), he learns to navigate this terrain, which has been made to look like a floating obstacle course. The animated levels are brought to life by Nintendo and Illumination Entertainment (best known for the Despicable Me and Minions movies), along with the characters Mario encounters along the way. There’s a fight scene with Toad (Keegan-Michael Key), a showdown with Kong (Seth Rogen) and a finale with Bowser, all of which come together in a wonderfully appealing mashup.

As it turns out, if you write a funny script and hire talented actors to voice it, it doesn’t really matter if the movie is a bunch of people running around in overalls saying things like “game on!” As long as the wow-factor is there, we’re happy to watch Mario deliver lines over a busy screen. Pratt turns in a winning, wonderful and whimsical performance as the titular hero. With his spry voice, he brings a sense of humanity to the proceedings, which would not have been the case had he stuck to the game’s Italian accent. When he discovers his brother’s location, the character sounds like he’s going to cry instead of bake a pizza.

Super Mario Bros.’ plot is simple and its emotions are easy to understand–it’s clearly geared toward kids– but it’s also a wily adventure for all. When Mario eventually reconnects with Luigi, it’s a moment that lands with the intended emotional bang, instead of the thud seen in other cartoon movies. It’s a rarity in animation, and Hovarth brings the right amount of depth to make us really believe in the brothers’ relationship. As for the special effects? They’re winners too.




























































































































































































































































































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