This post has been on my mind for a while now as I had a real craving to share my thoughts on the new Super Mario Bros movie. There was some anticipation behind this one, which isn’t always a good sign when it comes to my luck with modern movies, but the promotional stuff for this movie looked quite promising. This is great for someone who has only picked up the Mario games in his later years. Also because we’re in a bit of a renaissance when it comes to video game adaptations as we have talked about some pretty decent stuff in the past such as the Detective Pikachu movie and most recently with The Last of Us series. Another note is the trailer for the Mario movie looked really convincing with its impressive animation, all those references from the games, and the audacity to be pretty vague as to what the movie might actually be about. The annoying celebrity casting and the history of the subpar animated films from Nintendo’s collaborator Illumination aside; the marketing for the film was really well done and had me convinced I might really like the Mario movie. It’s a wonderful feeling when you convince yourself you like something because it can explode in your face if the thing doesn’t like you back.
The Super Mario Bros Movie is a movie where a lot happens and, because of that, the film goes at break-neck speed to fit it all in. It has the perfect length of an hour and 30, long enough for the hyperactive kids’ attention span and the tolerance span of bored parents. It helps that the story and characters are very simple because there is no time to elaborate on how the Mushroom Kingdon even works and there is especially no room for building character moments. All these essentials that you need to make a competent movie are thrown out of the window by the Mario movie. They know all they need is the brand, any sort of reference to said brand. Along with very bright animation with a hint of colour, and lots of childish wacky humour, because this is a movie for kids after all and they don’t need much. Sure movies like Puss in Boots: The Last Wish exist that prove the theory that animated kids’ movies can be more than just silly timewasters for children, but can also challenge them with their quite adult messages and even offer some serious and quiet moments to let children experience feel emotions besides excessive giggling, because it’s just an animated kids movie.
There were three instances where I realised The Mario movie was not for me. The first instance is where we first meet Mario and Luigi as plumbers in Brooklyn. This point is mainly based on my annoyance with the overdone trope that I might have walked into another 2020 Sonic the Hedgehog where the whole story was going to take place in the city such as New York and not the cool fantastical locations from the games. On the bright side 15 minutes later I was proven wrong when the Mario brothers were in a sewer and teleported to another universe full of fungi and reptile creatures. (I wasn’t the only one who thought the plot of this movie was pretty similar to the live-action Mario movie up till that point.) Instance 2 was when Mario busted into Peach’s castle and was chased by the guards, while Peach was planning to take action on Bowser. This is how the two meet, Peach immediately decides that Mario is clearly qualified to help her as he is the only human he had ever met as she has only seen little mushroom men her entire life. Then Peach puts Mario through an extensive training course and waits the whole day for him to complete it, even though 5 minutes ago she panicked about Bowser coming and insisting he needs to make an alliance with the Kongs as soon as possible. I guess having urgency in kids’ films is quite an overrated term as well. Finally, that whole final battle was just a headache. It was mentally exhausting as the whole never giving the audience a moment to breathe had finally caught up to me. There are a lot of things in this movie you have to take at face value and playing the games helps with this process. It also didn’t help that the movie doesn’t really bother to give me a reason to care about these characters outside of the fact I might recognise them from other things and from the little the movie has done to establish them. So that’s my excuse for being partly checked out in that grand finale of this film, sorry.
I don’t want to come off as if I disliked this movie, because it just isn’t for me. Watching this movie made me feel old as it made me dislike bright lights and saturated colours. It’s too loud, and too much happens too quickly. Slow down and get off my lawn! The main enjoyment I got was recognising things from the games as this film had about 10 easter eggs every minute. They played the Mario music and pretty much every Mario character is here, so I’m glad they acknowledged me here. The celebrity voice work wasn’t the worst thing ever. Christ Pratt as Mario and Seth Rogan as Donkey Kong I found were the only voices that didn’t fit the characters, but were otherwise okay. The only one they got right was Jack Black as Bowser. My villain bias might be showing, but Bowser was easily the best part of this movie as he was pretty funny and seemed to be the only one to show some actual character. He’s often in shadows, he’s sort of intimidating throughout the film and he even brings out his inner Dark Helmet by having a massive crush on Peach, which is hilariously pathetic. It’s always a bonus when you get the villain to sing a cheesy love song about it too!
My only annoyance with this movie is it’s too child friendly, which I get that’s what Mario is, but that is not the case with the games as I argue they’re made for everyone. I get that Nintendo’s last movie was such a misfire that they would want to play it super safe with this one. Though I’m still going to whine about it as I am sick of safe movies. There is a reason superhero media is dying because they’re doing the same thing the Mario movie is doing as they all share that once you’ve seen it, there is no need to touch it again. Time is precious to me and I would rather spend it on movies that challenge me and give me original experiences. I am aware that I don’t represent most of the population and I can see how this movie can appeal to literally anyone other than me.
Anyway, I really wanted to write about this movie, it did not live up to what I had hoped, and I can satisfyingly conclude to never have to write about this movie again. Blog Complainer, signing out.