Super Mario Bros. Movie Smashes Casting and Action Sequences, But Lacks Character Development

5 mins read

While the casting choices for Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie are odd, I was shocked to see that the cast did a great job. Chris Williams, an online reviewer from CinemaNerdz critiqued this film, said that the film’s cast was, “Fine but, aside from Jack Black as a smitten Bowser, no one really stands out enough to overpower the IP.” Despite this, I felt that by having Mario talk with a Brooklyn accent, Chris Pratt made it easier for me to perceive him as a character. This is especially true since having him speak with the over-the-top Italian accent everyone knows him for would make Mario seem more like a stereotype.

Pratt’s tough and sly Brooklyn accent allowed him to convey a sense of determination and heroism to Mario that I have always associated him with since I was a child, even if the trailers made it seem as if Pratt was barely trying. Determination and heroism came mainly from how Mario was too stubborn to give up whenever it came to achieving an impossible situation like fighting Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen), a large and strong gorilla that easily overpowered Mario many times during the scene where they battled each other.  

A key part of the movie showcased Mario and Donkey Kong fighting off Koopa Troopas, Goombas, and various other minions working for the film’s main antagonist, Bowser in the Mushroom Kingdom; the kingdom ruled by Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), Mario’s love interest. Seeing Mario step on Goombas, ride on Koopa shells, and bounce from mushroom to mushroom to get to higher places just as he did in the games was enjoyable to watch as it made me feel nostalgic of when I played Mario games as a child. In addition to that, having the scene display Mario and Donkey Kong fighting the minions at a satisfyingly brisk pace, and playing the Mario theme song made it feel epic and cinematic — making it a thrilling scene.  

As much as I enjoyed Pratt as Mario as well as the film’s action sequences, it seemed to have struggled in giving its characters longer moments of interaction, as doing so would have presented some form of character development. For instance, Mario and Donkey Kong, while inside the mouth of a giant eel, revealed that they are not respected by either of their fathers. If not for this scene involving Donkey Kong telling Mario that his father, Giuseppe (Charles Martinet), was right for not respecting him and ending abruptly, it would have provided some decent character development for both of them. This is made especially true by how, at this point in the film, it was made clear that Mario and Donkey Kong were rivals.  

With this in mind, a better alternative to Donkey Kong lashing out at Mario would have been a scene in which Mario and Donkey Kong explained why they felt their fathers do not respect them. By discussing their difficult relationships with their fathers, Mario and Donkey Kong would have been able to find enough common ground to cease their rivalry and thus develop as characters in this regard. Said discussion would also prove that the online reviewer named Megan Williams from Battle Royale With Cheese was right for believing that, “When there is a somber moment involving him, Seth Rogen is great at giving Donkey Kong an emotional, or heartfelt moment.”

Instead, the film risked what could have been a chance to develop these characters by having them engage in a petty argument and having the film cut right to them escaping the eel’s mouth using one of the barrel-like missiles on Donkey Kong’s go-kart, an item which was also swallowed by the eel. Because of this, the scene of Mario and Donkey Kong mentioning and then arguing about their relationships with their fathers turned out to be pointless, especially since their discussion went nowhere once the scene was finished.  

Whether you’re a Mario fan or someone who just wants to watch an enjoyable family film, The Super Mario Bros. Movie will make you jump for joy. Given what I have said about this film, I would have to give it a 7/10. 

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