If you grew up in the early 2000s and onward, chances are you played a Mario franchise game like the world-renowned Mario Kart, choosing your favorite character every time.
Capitalizing on these games’ nostalgic factor, animation studio giant Illumination Entertainment released the “Super Mario Bros” movie in theaters on April 5.
The film features Mario and Luigi, two brothers seen as failures in their family, as they are separated from one another while being transported from Brooklyn to the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario teams up with Princess Peach to rescue his brother from Bowser — who is intent on marrying Princess Peach — no matter what it takes.
Film critics and audience members have been divided, clearly seen in the 59% critic score and 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite the low reviews from critics, “Super Mario Bros” has become the highest-grossing film of 2023, a reflection of how media is received these days: meme culture.
The conversation around “Super Mario Bros” began with the controversial casting of Chris Pratt as Mario, an actor who recently received criticism for accepting the role of a famously Italian character and not using the famous accent.
Pratt, however, pulls off his role with ease and reimagines his endearing protagonist.
Now, people are obsessed with the film’s casting of Jack Black as Bowser and his principal track, “Peaches.” As the voice of Bowser, Black is a treat like always.
Rounding out the star-studded cast is Anya Taylor Joy as the voice of Princess Peach, whose performance feels dynamic and believable.
The cast manages to avoid the problem seen with most animation castings, where the audience has difficulty suspending disbelief and not envisioning the original actors in their animated roles.
Another high point of this film is the top-tier animation. There were several shots with gorgeous and rich landscapes and fight scenes, further immersing the audience into this fictional world.
Despite its successes, the film’s script often came across as cliche. There were a couple moments where I resisted rolling my eyes. It felt like the writers chose the cheapest, easiest character arcs and interactions and forgot any sense of subtleness. Even animated films can have a little depth.
If you’re coming in with low expectations, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe it’s because I am the target audience for it, but it felt funny despite its more obvious choices.
If you want to have fun and feel like a kid again, buy a ticket to see “Super Mario Bros.”