The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Our Movie of the Month for May is The Super Mario Bros. Movie! Why? I could say that we chose this movie because most of the folks subscribed to The Filmstrip are people who were married between 1 and 8 years ago, so it’s possible they have kids that will like the movie. But if I’m being entirely honest, it’s because I only got around to seeing one movie last month, and so this is the only new release I can really write about.
The movie is genuinely a lot of fun, for kids and for adults, and I found it hard not to sport a smile throughout. There were also lots of people in costume, so don’t be afraid to wear your favorite Toad hat or copy Jack Black’s Bowser costume from that Kelly Clarkson interview. I think adults who played Mario growing up will enjoy the movie from sheer nostalgia alone – I genuinely think the filmmakers’ method for writing the movie was to sit and play every Mario game, write down all the tiny details they wanted to fit into the movie, then make up a story to simply lead us from one detail to the next. Every easter egg imaginable made it in – spinning bowser by the tail from Mario 64? Check. Shortcuts on Rainbow Road? Check. “Your princess is in another castle” Check check check.
Another spot where they crammed an unbelievable amount of easter eggs into the movie was the music; just about every recognizable leitmotif from the games you probably still have stuck in your head 20 years later was featured. My inner child was entirely too excited when the classic underground theme started.
While I was expecting to hate Chris Pratt as Mario, he was… fine. Totally fine. He doesn’t sound anything like the Mario of the games, but I honestly forgot it was him 20 minutes in – not nearly as grating as expected. And Jack Black and Keegan Michael Key’s performances as Bowser and Toad respectively entirely make up for any perceived shortcoming from Pratt. I can’t get Jack Black’s “Peaches” song out of my head, even a week later.
But is it a good movie?
I mean… what makes a good movie? Does it need to have a point, a moral, a message?
Well, this movie doesn’t have that.
Like I mentioned before, I genuinely think the script was created as a vehicle to get as many references out as efficiently as possible. But if you’re going to the theatre to see a “good movie,” let’s be honest, you’re probably not going to see Mario. One review I read for the film before seeing this movie was that watching the film felt like “watching someone else playing a video game and not being able to play yourself.” I guess my response to that is… isn’t that, like, exactly what a movie is?
It did feel a little bit like the movie was trying to do The Whole Marvel Thing™, where every line must be a joke, and we need to cram as much nostalgia as possible in as little time as possible. We even got a post-credits scene, presumably to set up the Mario Cinematic Universe! To be honest, I am getting a little tired of cinema doing this again and again and again…… but I did choose to see this movie, and to be honest, I should have known what I signed up for.
So if you want to see a cinematic masterpiece, check out something like The Whale or Everything Everywhere All at Once (last month’s Movie of the Month 👀). But if you want to see an almost perfect children’s movie that knows exactly what it is, has (mostly) excellent performances, really stunning animation, incredible music, and more nostalgia than you thought possible to cram into 92 minutes, then check out Super Mario Bros. Not convinced? Try a Saturday Matinee (or if you're in West Michigan, TACO Tuesday at your nearest Celebration Cinema) to catch the cheap seats and a crowd of excited families to share in the experience.