It’s hard to believe it’s been a year and a half since our lives changed forever when Chris Pratt was named the new voice of Mario. People cried, marriages were ended, and long-time friendships were squashed, all because this non-Italian was soon to be the voice of working-class plumbers everywhere. Pratt seemed to take the hate as fuel and ran with it using his tiny Mario legs. Then we all kinda got over it and accepted it once Anya Taylor-Joy stepped out in her Princess Peach racing outfit.
Now that it’s about to hit theaters, it’s time for the real moment of truth: is The Super Mario Bros. Movie good enough to warrant going out to a movie theater on a random Wednesday night in April in order to see it? It sure seems like people enjoyed it!
Despite the initial casting backlash, early reviews for Mario are pretty favorable, mostly praising the colorful aesthetics. It’s important to remember that, after all, this is coming from the same studio that forced Minions upon us, so not every joke will land with everyone. But it seems like if you are a fan of fun and/or Jack Black, you’ll have a nice time.
Here are some of the early reviews:
Christian Holub, Entertainment Weekly
It’s all quite fun, with a good sense of humor and a consistent computer-animated aesthetic — plus, at 90 minutes including credits, it’s short, sweet, and over before anything can get annoying. But it’s hard to escape the feeling, especially during the aforementioned Rainbow Road sequence, that you would probably be having more fun just playing a game together instead. Grade: B-
Pete Hammond, Deadline:
All of this is immensely likable and loaded with laughs, if not raging wit. Having the likes of Black and Rogen in the voice cast definitely ups the ante of some stabs at subversive humor, and all seem to be enjoying this stint, which definitely is set up for sequels as Mario and Luigi are about to start a new act in their long careers. The CGI animation goes big for bright colors juxtaposed with the ominous Dark Lands, and the film is helped immensely by a zippy and lilting musical score from Brian Tyler.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
Mario presides over a digital playground that lifts the spirit to a place of split-second wonder, and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” stays true to that. Its ingenuity is infectious. You don’t have to be a Mario fan to respond to it, but the film is going to remind the millions who are why they call it a joystick.
Allegra Frank, The Daily Beast
Super Mario Bros is a film that takes the Nintendo faithful’s valid concerns into consideration, making up for its weaker spots by exploding the film with immeasurable heart. It may not offer much to turn the gaming-ignorant into full-on converts, but it offers plenty enough for the remaining millions of us. Beautiful visuals and exciting play—what more could a Mario fan really need?
Tom Jorgensen, IGN:
Mario, Luigi, and Peach’s adventure delights with its infectious energy and smart implementations of video game callbacks, and the top-shelf animation renders the Mushroom Kingdom as an Oz-like wonderland that begs to be explored in the inevitable sequels that will follow. The assembled voice cast puts a unique spin on each of their characters, but undercooked emotional arcs don’t get the same attention as the aesthetics, something not helped by a paint-by-numbers plot that bafflingly keeps Mario and Luigi away from each other for half the movie.
Charles Pulliam-Moore, The Verge,
Watching The Super Mario Bros. Movie, it’s impossible not to imagine what it might be like to one day play a game as visually-rich running on hardware that puts current-gen Nintendo Switch to shame. That’s probably (part of) the reason the movie exists. But as big budget commercials for video games and consoles go The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s going to be undefeated for quite some time.
David Sims, The Atlantic:
The narrative provides just the loosest nudges from scene to scene, and the colorful animation renders every set piece with polish. Pratt, an odd choice to play an outsized Italian American stereotype, hardly speaks after the first act of the film once the plot gets consumed by heady action. Black gets to do more as Bowser, singing emotional rock ballads and grousing over romantic rejection with his characteristic dorky rage. But almost every other part of the movie makes clear that the studio wanted the filmmakers to avoid straying too far from the hallowed source material.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie opens on April 5th.