Review: Next-level fun intended for kids with ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” currently has a 56% approval rating among critics and a 96% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

A movie poster for "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."
"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is playing at Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter. The computer-animated film is based on the popular Nintendo video game.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — You don’t have to be a child to enjoy the eye-popping visuals of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.”

But it helps to have a childlike sense of wonder and playfulness if you decide to see the latest feature film adaptation of the popular Nintendo video game that the new release was based on. The 90-minute movie is rated PG and is currently playing in movie theaters.

Chris Pratt and Charlie Day star as the mustachoed brothers Mario and Luigi, respectively, while Anya Taylor-Joy plays Princess Peach in the computer-animated film. The trio band together to combat the forces of the tyrannical Bowser, a turtle-like creature that looks to be on steroids.

The family-friendly motion picture from the movie studio behind the “Despicable Me” franchise hopes to have another hit on its hands with its origin story for the Italian-American plumbers who are transported to the alternate world populated by the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom.

The fire-breathing Bowser is carrying a torch for Princess Peach and he marshals his Koopa Troopas footsoldiers on an epic campaign to destroy the Mushroom Kingdom with a Super Star if she refuses his #MeToo-like overtures at what he believes to be love for the blonde royalty.


Bowser with his punk rock or heavy metal fashion sense is voiced by none other than Jack Black, who is no stranger to children’s fare with his starring role in DreamWorks Animation's “Kung Fu Panda” film franchise and the 2011 live-action movie “The Muppets” by Jason Segel.

Bowser is the king of the Koopas and unrelenting ruler of the Dark Lands, which is welcoming as it sounds and is where, unfortunately, Luigi finds himself when he accidentally gets separated from Mario when they were magically transported to the alternate world.

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Many if not all of the main characters in the new film will be familiar to moviegoers, particularly with generations of those who played the Nintendo video game. The Nintendo Entertainment System version of the nostalgic video game received a wide release in North America in 1986.

Feature film adaptations of video games have a checkered history at the box office, with many critical failures while some have proven to be a hit with audiences despite the reviews, such as the “Resident Evil” films starring Milla Jovovich, one of the highest-grossing horror franchises.

Other attempts at big-screen success include motion pictures based on video games like “Street Fighter,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Prince of Persia,” “Tomb Raider,” “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Assasin’s Creed,” “Uncharted,” “Doom,” “Alone in the Dark,” “Silent Hill,” “Max Payne” and many others.

Nintendo attempted to capitalize on its beloved side-scrolling videogame with the live-action “Super Mario Bros.” film that was released theatrically in 1993, starring English actor Bob Hoskins as Mario and Columbian actor John Leguizamo as Luigi. It was an undeniable flop.

Pratt became a bonafide star with the “Jurassic World” trilogy after appearing in the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation.” Taylor-Joy’s breakthrough film role was in the 2015 folk horror movie “The Witch” and she expanded her audience with the Netflix miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit.”

Moviegoers may recognize Day’s one-of-a-kind voice from the FX comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” The comedic actor has also appeared on the big screen in “Pacific Rim,” a science-fiction monster movie, and “Horrible Bosses,” which featured an ensemble cast.


“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” currently has a 56% approval rating among critics and a 96% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

The consensus from the critics at “While it's nowhere near as thrilling as turtle tipping your way to 128 lives, ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ is a colorful – albeit thinly plotted – animated adventure that has about as many Nintendos as Nintendon'ts.”

FRANK LEE is the movie columnist for the Brainerd Dispatch. He may be reached at 218-631-6470 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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