The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review: A Better Film than I Expected… But Still Not Great

The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review

There’s been no shortage of talk about The Super Mario Bros Movie ahead of its release. And not all of it has been good. After the film’s trailer debut, a lot of fans raised concerns about the studio’s choice in casting Chris Pratt to voice Mario. As a result, a lot of fans had lower expectations for the movie, myself included. So how did the movie actually turn out? Surprisingly not as bad as I initially anticipated.

The film follows Brooklyn plumbers Mario (voiced by Chris Pratt) and brother Luigi (voiced by Charlie Day). While trying to fix a broken pipe, the brothers find themselves transported down a mysterious pipe and into a fantastical new world. However, the brothers get separated and Mario finds himself in the Mushroom Kingdom without a clue where Luigi is.

Mario enlists the help of a resident Toad (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) for an introduction to Princess Peach (voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy). And the three of them set off on an epic quest to not only save Luigi but also defeat Bowser (voiced by Jack Black) and save the Mushroom Kingdom.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie Trailer

The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

With a one-hour and 32-minute run time, The Super Mario Bros Movie didn’t quite reach the same heights as its video game counterpart. However, it was more entertaining than I expected as the initial teaser trailer had pretty drastically lowered my expectations.

What surprised me about this one was what I loved the most, the music. The iconic game music gets adapted into the film’s score in a rather brilliant way, spurring countless moments of nostalgia and easter eggs for fans of all the Super Mario Bros. video games.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review
Photo Credit: Nintendo


It’s a short movie, and the script tries to pack a lot in. It almost feels as if you’re watching the gameplay as the film unfolds and tries to elicit laughter from the audience.  Unfortunately, the overall pacing doesn’t let up, causing the whole story to feel rushed.

Some jokes hit but most fall flat. And the character development just isn’t there, probably because there just isn’t enough time for it in a meaningful way. That being said, the pacing will probably be perfect for the younger viewers who will have no shortage of activity on the screen to keep them focused. 

For me, the best part of the script was Bowser. I loved that they didn’t just make him this fearsome villain that we all know from the games. Instead, they alternated his darker personality with a lighter more romantic side (he wants to marry Princess Peach), and it provides some of the best humor (and only jokes that really work) in the film.

Bowser in The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Photo Credit: Nintendo

Voice Acting

The voice acting isn’t one of the film’s strongest points. Though, Chris Pratt’s work here wasn’t terrible. The movie pokes fun at the accents in one of the film’s first scenes, which doesn’t directly address the early criticism, but it certainly helps create a more acceptable transition for the audience to be less judgy of Pratt’s voice.

Each character had their own unique style and delivery, which added authenticity to the movie’s world. Keegan-Michael Key provided some much-needed comic relief as Toad, while Charlie Day played Luigi with just enough naivety and innocence to make us root for his success throughout the movie. Anya Taylor-Joy did a fine job as Princess Peach, but her voice isn’t enough to distract you from the uncanny valley effect of her facial expressions. The animation, specifically on Taylor-Joy’s character, is one of the more creepy aspects of the movie, or at least it was for me.

The strongest performance here was that of Jack Black as Bowser. As I mentioned earlier, I loved the lighter side that they brought to his character, which balanced well with the sense of menace that Black also brought to the big screen with Bowser.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Photo Credit: Nintendo

Overall Thoughts

It’s clear that Nintendo has big plans for the future of the franchise, with the recent launch of their theme park counterparts of this IP. And the absence of a major character in the film, along with a post-credit scene, makes it pretty clear that they’re planning to make another movie. Is this one strong enough to create a foundation for a film franchise? It’s debatable. 

All-in-all, it’s not a bad movie. It’s just not a great movie, either. If you’ve never played the video games, then you’ll likely not be a fan of this one. But if you have played the games, or you have a young fan who is currently playing them, there’s enough here to have a little fun.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review:

Grade: C-

The Super Mario Bros. Movie 60-Second Movie Review

Note: FanBolt’s Featured Image is fan art created by FanBolt purely for the love of design and fan culture. (We’re movie and design nerds). The property and fandom inspire the artwork, and no infringement is/was intended. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is the property of Nintendo.


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