Review Super Mario Bros. movie

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero

So, this was brought up on at least one of the D&D movie threads, but I thought it deserved a thread of its own.

I just got back from taking my kids (high school and elementary school) to a matinee showing of the movie and they both really liked it. The movie is drop-dead gorgeous (even better than the trailer leads you to believe) and moves along at a good pace. It's a 90 minute movie and actually feels a bit faster and breezier than that, without being manic in the way, say, that many Netflix kids movies are.

And generally speaking, it comes off very well compared to many kids movies. (If you've seen the Croods or any Ice Age movies, you know what I mean.) The characters all have at least small arcs, the villains have understandable if cartoonish motivations, and while there are things snuck in there for adults -- usually well-chosen needle drops -- the movie is very focused on being a kids' movie that will hold up years or decades from now. All the kids in the theater loved it.

In contrast, we saw trailers for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and the latest misbegotten Trolls movie. Both the extended TMNT joke about "ooze" (referencing 1991's "Secret of the Ooze" TMNT movie) and the Trolls hitting a "hustle" button and turning everything into a disco-themed sequence with (early) 1970s animation were met with complete crickets, as none of the kids being targeted in trailers for kids movies had any idea what these (pretty thin) jokes were about.

My kids have never owned a Nintendo game system, but grew up in a world where console videogame characters are everywhere. Mario and Sonic are their Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker, for better or worse. They know so much about Mario's world and the games he appears in.

The adults harrumphing that the Mario movie isn't any good need to get over themselves. This was never going to be Barbie or even the Lego Movie. Nintendo's very clear about their brand and storytelling -- they are hyper-sincere, play things straight and non-ironic. And if you're casting Chris Pratt, you're not aspiring to do Paddington 2 -- you just want something fine and inoffensive, which this was.

For people like me, who grew up with Donkey Kong and the original (not-super) Mario Bros. games, there were fun callbacks, and there are multiple sequences that replicate platform gaming, the first of which in 2D in the streets of Brooklyn, and they're all extremely well done. You also get all the obligatory stuff, like "your princess is in another castle" and Donkey Kong fighting Mario on girders. But the Easter eggs are much less intrusive than they even were in Honor Among Thieves, which walked right up to the line of being too intense about them, IMO.

Jack Black is, once again, the best thing in a kid's movie, and his musical skills are used more than once for Bowser, always to good effect. And it was amusing to realize that Anna-Taylor Joy playing a blonde with gigantic eyes is typecasting.

If you are obligated to take your kids to the movie theater this spring for some reason, this is a much better bet than Trolls XII: We Hate Ourselves As Much As You Hate Us.
 

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The adults harrumphing that the Mario movie isn't any good need to get over themselves. This was never going to be Barbie or even the Lego Movie. Nintendo's very clear about their brand and storytelling -- they are hyper-sincere, play things straight and non-ironic. And if you're casting Chris Pratt, you're not aspiring to do Paddington 2 -- you just want something fine and inoffensive, which this was.
I don't think this really works because, the Lego Movie also starred Chris Pratt and it's absolutely on-par with Paddington 2 (I mean, obviously not as good, but in the same broad bracket), and the Lego Movie was also very sincere - painfully so at times. So I don't see it.

Most of the critiques I've seen have been about it being hollow marketing aimed primarily at fans, and that it had nothing to say and no ideas even by kid's movies standards, which you seem to confirm.

Re: Trolls, it looks like the latest one is waiting until November so will be well clear of SMB, sadly.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I don't think this really works because, the Lego Movie also starred Chris Pratt and it's absolutely on-par with Paddington 2 (I mean, obviously not as good, but in the same broad bracket), and the Lego Movie was also very sincere - painfully so at times. So I don't see it.
Eh, the Lego Movie had Parks & Rec Chris Pratt, not Movie Star Chris Pratt.

And both Paddington movies are absolutely self-aware of how silly things are. It's a whole British thing you folks can't stop doing.
Most of the critiques I've seen have been about it being hollow marketing aimed primarily at fans, and that it had nothing to say and no ideas even by kid's movies standards, which you seem to confirm.
I have a hard time thinking of a cartoon aimed at seven and eight year olds that had something interesting to say. Pixar movies, I'd argue, aren't aimed at little kids at all -- they're adult films wrapped in kid-friendly candy coatings -- and modern Disney films aren't far behind. (Frozen explicitly interrogating the "my life begins when a handsome man notices me" narrative soars over kids' heads.)

This film wasn't ever going to be that. I can easily imagine Nintendo explicitly rejecting any such script elements.

The characters do have arcs, though, with Mario and Donkey Kong both being disappointments to their fathers and Luigi not believing he can succeed without his brother around. Their growth by the end is predictable without being saccharine.
 


This film wasn't ever going to be that. I can easily imagine Nintendo explicitly rejecting any such script elements.
I mean, when outside influence makes a film mediocre or bad that doesn't mean it's not mediocre or bad, just maybe we blame the film-makers less.

It's always worth pointing out when a kid's film isn't worth watching for adults, I'd say. Some of Pixar's stuff was absolutely worth seeing at the cinema as an adult. The Lego Movie or Paddington 2 probably would have been.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Oh, I absolutely don't think this is a movie for adults. I just don't think Nintendo or Illumination have ever pretended otherwise.

In contrast, the Barbie trailer and the Lego Movie trailers made it very clear that things were going to get subverted, questioned and laughed at. Everything in the Mario Bros trailers says they're playing it straight and they're not lying.
 

pukunui

Legend
I took my younger two to see this movie yesterday. It was an enjoyable bit of fun.

It was great to see Peach being the heroine instead of a damsel in distress in need of rescue by the male leads.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
It was great to see Peach being the heroine instead of a damsel in distress in need of rescue by the male leads.
I think they have moved her away from that in recent years, but yeah, the scene where she grabs the pole arm and heads out to confront Bowser was great. No one needs to rescue Peach. And her handling of the "marry me because I want you to" was well done as well.
 

I just saw the Super Mario Bros Movie, and I thought it was pretty good. The critics are way too harsh on this one. Yes, the plot is paper thin, and it is basically all fan service, but then again that is exactly what you expect and hope to see. The movie is clearly intended for a young audience, and had I seen this as a kid, I would have loved it! An an adult, it's mostly fun seeing all the cheeky references to things from my childhood.

The voice acting is pretty solid. Chris Pratt is fine as Mario, and undeserving of all the online hate. But Jack Black really knocks it out of the park as Bowser, and his singing scenes where he professes his love to princess Peach had us laughing out loud. I also really enjoyed Anya Tailor Joy as Peach.

The visuals are incredible. The world of Super Mario is realised in gorgeous colorful detail, and on the technical side, there are some impressive CG smoke and water sims going on in some of the scenes.

The humor is hit or miss, but mostly hit. Any awkwardly inserted pop songs are kind of cringe, as are quotes like "Its on like Donkey Kong" and "Your princess is in another castle". But most of the humor works, especially everything with Bowser.

Critics critique the fact that Mario and Luigi are apart almost the entire movie. First of all, what a weak point of criticism, but also, it's not true. They share plenty of screentime together, and it is the glue that keeps the movie together. I also appreciate that at no point princess Peach is getting kidnapped, and that we get to meet the rest of Mario's family.

This movie is a fun ride, with a fantastic soundtrack that pays hommage to so many classic mario tunes. The plot does not have a Pixar level of depth where it resonates as strongly with both young and old. But that doesn't mean it's terrible. As a movie targeting a young audience, it's a ton of fun. I wish I saw this as a child, I would have loved it.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I loved that they put in visual signposting at the end that this story was a love story -- between brothers. To me, this is what kid's movies should be about, rather than telling elementary schoolers they need to be focused on adult romance.

I worry that Jack Black is never going to be fully appreciated in his lifetime, but between School of Rock, Kung Fu Panda, Jumanji and this, he is a kid movie all-star. Every one of those performances, even when others around him may be phoning it in, he gives 100%.
 
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