FILM REVIEW — Beloved video game gets another movie adaptation

Published 12:02 am Friday, April 7, 2023

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“The Super Mario Bros. Movie”

Illumination Studios

Directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic

Starring Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Seth Rogen and Keegan Michael Key

Rated PG

2 1/2 Stars

“The Mario Bros. Movie” is a brightly colored adventure with a lot of silly humor and an A-list voice cast. It will never be considered as the cinematic highpoint in animation or video game movies, but it does capture a lot of what makes the beloved video game so much fun.

I suspect that will be just enough to tempt families back to the movie theater over the long holiday weekend.

That’s no small feat. Remember that we’ve been down this road before with the 1993 movie that was a complete flop. The new version takes a much lighter touch, with Chris Pratt and Charlie Day playing Mario and Luigi, two Brooklyn plumbers who get magically transported to the Mushroom Kingdom where they team up with Princess Peach (Anya Taylor Joy) and Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) to defeat the villain Bowser (Jack Black).

The story is rather simple, offering some fun character scenes, but mostly giving us side-scrolling action sequences that put the characters back in situations that will be very familiar to anybody whoever played the game.

It makes for a fast-paced movie that should hold your kids’ attentions, even if it’s little more than disposable entertainment.

The voice cast works well enough, although I’m not in the camp that believes Chris Pratt was miscast because he doesn’t do Mario’s voice properly. I quite enjoyed Seth Rogan’s silly charm playing Donkey Kong and low-key loved Jack Black’s Meatloaf-meets-The Phantom of the Opera take on the bad guy.

These two performances almost transcend the film’s basic ambitions.


Look, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is not a great film by any stretch of the imagination. I understand why those who fondly remember the video game would hope for something more noteworthy. Remember this is a film from Illumination Studios, the folks who gave us the “Minions,” “Sing” and “Secret Life of Pets” franchises. These are all solid, low-tier entertainment with a high gloss and a history of delighting young audiences.

“Super Mario Bros. Movie” gives us more of the same. Vibrant characters, Silly action. A simple story that even the youngest kid can follow. It all adds up to a high gloss treat for the family this Easter weekend.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at