The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Bright and colorful, it’s a-go!

I’m no gaming expert, but I have played a few Mario games in my travels, and really enjoyed the nostalgia trips along the way. Now, we have “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” the first theatrical version of the Nintendo game characters since John Leguizamo and the late Bob Hoskins took on the live action roles 30 years ago, and also the latest animated feature from Illumination (“Despicable Me,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” etc.).

The prerelease criticisms has Chris Pratt voicing Mario, despite the fact that he is not of Italian descent. This aggravated fans who preferred the iconic voice actor Charles Martinet kept complaining and complaining, but Illumination stuck to their guns. And I’ve been curious about how the film would play out based on those notions. But seeing this movie was actually a lot of fun. And Pratt is not as bad as you feared.

Last night, a woman and her young child (somewhere between 7 and 9) walked out of “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” because it featured some intense/frightening scenes. I was probably right when I mentioned it was darker than the first. I gave them my business card asking them to check out my reviews, because I do look out for the kids sometimes, even though I’m not sure what kids are into these days. The mother said they’re not as advanced as the kids who watch bad stuff are, as they stick to the kiddie stuff. It’s proof that I am doing my job as a film critic, when it comes to kids movies. And I blame Hollywood for barely releasing any kids movies in the mainstream theaters in March.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is something that mother and child would enjoy. It’s brighter, more colorful, and energetic than “Shazam: Fury of the Gods.” Finding the kid in myself, I was able to enjoy the adventures that Mario finds as his brother Luigi (voiced by Charlie Day) gets sucked into the wrong world. A world where the fire-breathing Bowser (voiced by Jack Black) plans to take over the Mushroom Kingdom (where Mario lands in), marry Princess Peach (voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy), and rule the universe.

The movie doesn’t completely cater to the damsel in distress cliches, by making Luigi a kidnapped victim and Peach a fearless young woman. And it’s not a typical love story between her and Mario, although he does like her. It allows these characters to have versatility and consistency without being so noisy or mean-spirited.

The adventures Mario finds himself in include him following the loyal mushroom adventurer Toad (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) into sucking tubes, and how he battles Donkey Kong (voiced by Seth Rogen) with question boxes which contain mushrooms you must eat in order to get powers. And what wouldn’t be a “Super Mario Bros.” movie without race cars and a rainbow track?

Originally created in 1981, Donkey Kong came out before Mario, which would make sense if they have some sort of rivalry between them. And it also makes sense that you hear some classic 80s hits from Beastie Boys, a-ha, ELO, Bonnie Tyler, and AC/DC on the soundtrack. You need to keep the 80s alive, especially for the fanbase, who grew up on the material. I like the way Pratt doesn’t think he’s better than Martinet as Mario (because he isn’t), how Day has the likable cartoonish mannerisms as Luigi, how Taylor-Joy has charm as Princess Peach, how Rogen stylizes Donkey Kong with his animated pecs, and how Black has the fire and attitude as Bowser.

Is the story at the first-rate level of “The Lego Movie,” which also featured the voices of Pratt and Day? No, because it’s a little short to reach those standards. But is it a fun movie for kids and adults? I do hear some adults complaining about the quality of kids films being noisy and so forth. I would agree with them from time to time, I also know there are adults who aren’t made of stone, and actually need a break from getting old. Maybe this will bring out the kid in them. Or I could be wrong.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Categories: Action, Adventure, Animation, comedy, Family, Fantasy

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