The Super Mario Bros. Movie Parent Guide
The story is underwritten and the characters are flat but this film is bright, fun, and filled with jokes for viewers of all ages.
Parent Movie Review
Brooklyn brothers Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) are struggling to get their new plumbing business off the ground. While exploring the sewer system, they both get sucked into a mysterious pipe that leads them to magical worlds. Luigi finds himself in a barren world of lava and skeleton zombies ruled by the terrifying Bowser (Jack Black), while Mario falls into a world of mushrooms led by the courageous Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy). With Bowser intent on taking over all the kingdoms in the realm, Mario and Peach team up to defeat him and save Luigi.
I told a coworker that I was seeing this movie and she asked if it would be a good choice for someone who has zero knowledge of the Nintendo property. To answer her question publicly, no. Although I enjoyed the film overall, which I’ll expand on in a moment, I don’t recommend it for people who don’t know anything about the Mario games. You do not have to be an expert (I know I’m not) but you should have some basic ideas of the characters and their worlds, or you’ll be completely lost and probably quite bored.
Illumination is possibly my least favorite major animation studio. With maybe one or two exceptions their productions are generally lackluster, immature, and poorly written. Super Mario Bros unfortunately falls into some of the same traps as its studio siblings. The story is underwritten, most of the characters are flat, and the script comes across as juvenile. The plot serves mainly to set up video game call back set pieces, with very little keeping the scenes together.
That all said, I had a great time and so did the theater full of kids. What little plot there is manages to be fun and deliver positive messages about courage, teamwork, and persistence. There are some great jokes that even got me howling with laughter and, contrived as the set pieces may be, they are super enjoyable. Troops of monkeys and turtles fighting Mad Max-style in Go Karts on a rainbow? Come on, that’s just great cinema. Jack Black is the glue holding this precarious production together as he brings the perfect balance of menace and ridiculousness and even gets to flex his musical chops.
I want to make a special shout out to the composer, Brian Tyler, who crafted the perfect blend of the original Nintendo score (by Koji Kondo) into an orchestral score. The soundtrack pays homage to the familiar themes, but not to the point that it becomes annoying; on the contrary, it’s absolutely fantastic.
Overall, I think children and fans of the franchise are going to have a blast with this movie. No, it’s not going to win any writing awards, but it made me laugh and it looks good which is more than I can say for most children’s media. Parents need only worry about the fantasy violence throughout, which could be a bit scary for very young viewers. If you’re ok with a lot of spectacle and not much substance, The Super Mario Bros Movie is sure to power up family movie night.Directed by Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic. Starring Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day. Running time: 92 minutes. Theatrical release April 5, 2023. Updated January 23, 2024
Watch the trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Super Mario Bros. Movie rated PG? The Super Mario Bros. Movie is rated PG by the MPAA for action and mild violence.
Violence: There is fantasy action violence throughout including explosions, falls, magic, and fire. Characters fight, including with various powerups. A character is repeatedly struck and is seen with a bruised face. There is a brief scene of a character being tortured by magic. A male character has his moustache hair pulled out while being interrogated. A piano lid is slammed on someone’s hands. A monster eats two characters but they don’t die. A character is chased by zombie skeletons.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are some mild insults such as “idiot” and “stupid”.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated January 23, 2024
The Super Mario Bros. Movie Parents' GuideWhat does Luigi learn as he watches his brother? How do the two work together and grow as people?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If you’ve got a young Mario fan in your house, you will want to get a copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario Encyclopedia: The Official Guide to the First 30 Years. Your youngster will be delighted with the abundance of trivia available here.
Adult video fans who want to learn the backstory behind Mario can read Jeff Ryan’s Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America.
Related home video titles:
Teen viewers and their parents will appreciate Ryan Reynolds’ performance in Free Guy, a movie that goes inside a video game as a character becomes self-aware and starts to make independent choices.
Also based on a game is Uncharted, a fast-paced action thriller starring Tom Holland. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves builds on the video game and its real world predecessor to create an engaging fantasy universe peopled with charming or villainous characters.