Super Mario Bros. and Illumination took nearly four decades, one spectacular live-action misfire, and dozens of other failed video game adaptations to learn from, but none of them went to waste. An onscreen adventure is finally given to the most iconic character in gaming. A pop culture juggernaut created by game developers, artists, and musicians.
There is incredible detail and reverence put into the Mushroom Kingdom. In Super Mario Bros., the Through a warp pipe, brothers Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) are sucked into the Mushroom Kingdom while working on a plumbing job underneath Brooklyn. In the end, they get caught up with King Bowser's (Jack Black) plan to steal the Super Star, so that he can seize Princess Peach's (Anya Taylor-Joy) Toad-filled domain. Mario games ensure co-directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic (Teen Titans Go! ) have an infinite well of wild scenarios and iconography to pull from to stage inventive action moments.
The Super Mario Bros. It's almost always in the movie that there's an inventive way to solve a problem that relies on something from the games, but the movie always explains how it works (even if it ignores the why). Whether it's recreating the path of World 1-1 as Mario and Luigi parkour through Brooklyn or the preemptive giggle fans will get seeing Mario consume a blue mushroom instead of a red one during a fight, The Super Mario Bros. Movie achieves a great balance between accessibility and inside jokes for fans.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie makes heavy use of references, which isn't a good thing in and of itself, but their use feels justified because they are used organically and relevantly. At worst, sequences like the Rainbow Road race can feel tacked on when they don't fully justify their existence with any kind of logical reason (sold movie-branded Mario Kart toys doesn't count), but logic is not a currency anyone expects in The Super Mario Bros. movie. Platforms float in the movie, and there are blocks with question marks all over the place filled with power-ups that transform people into cats and flamethrowers. Then it's easier to swallow a movie that spends 10 minutes staging an elaborate Mario Kart race to enhance a journey from A to B.
Please allow me to pause here for you and a family member to schedule an appointment for Super Mario Bros and have the best 1 hour and a half of your life. Nintendo and illumination have produced a Mario movie that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their knowledge of the games.