Mario, Ciao Bella
The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) is exciting, funny, and mercifully short, which is a godsend in an era where animated films put us through our paces by exploring every cartoon’s lifelong trauma. There’s little of that here, aside from the opening scenes establishing Mario and Luigi as the black sheep in their large Italian family. Even through those fleeting bits I was grinding my teeth. This movie is about the most beloved video game characters of all time. We’re already rooting for them. There’s no need for a Rudy plot line where their father calls them losers.
Look, I enjoy an emotionally complex and thought-provoking experience as much as the next person, but critics who are whining that The Super Mario Bros. Movie isn’t exactly Chinatown are acting like they’ve never enjoyed a handful of M&Ms. Here’s my advice to those poor, wayward souls — put on the Kenny Loggins song from Caddyshack II and try to remember the last time you jumped on a Slip n’ Slide. Do you really need spiritual resonance from Donkey Kong? Why?
The big controversy surrounding The Super Mario Bros. Movie was the hiring of Chris Pratt to voice Mario. Honestly, I forgot it was him for the duration of my viewing. Eventually it dawned on me that maybe Pratt was the perfect choice. Like Mario, he’s eager, goofy, occasionally heroic, and seemingly unflappable. We can’t be rid of either of them.
On the 1 to 100 scale I give The Super Mario Bros. Movie a 95. I hope the sequel follows the trajectory of the original games and introduces King Wart as Mario’s next adversary.