I recently watched The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) as I was curious about its quality. Movies based on video games tend to be complete garbage, and some rank probably among the worst movies ever made. There is even a German movie maker, Uwe Boll, who built a career out of producing absolutely horrific video game adaptations. Supposedly he made money via exploiting tax loop holes but I would not at all be surprised if he simply laundered mob money. Anyway, my expectations for the Mario movie were quite low, and they were met.
Overall, this movie seems to target little children. However, it is largely built on references to various Mario games. Thus, the real audience seem to be gamers. The story is pretty nonsensical. It makes even less sense than a porn plot that was blown up to fill 90 minutes. There are plenty of deus-ex-machina moments and sudden shifts in the story that come absolutely out of nowhere. If you do not suffer from ADHD, you will be at a severe disadvantage.
The worst part of this movie is the depiction of Mario and Princess Peach. In the games, Mario rescues Peach, like the good little cuck he is. For risking his life he only ever gets a kiss on the cheek. I think in some games he does not even get that. In this movie, he basically serves as the perennial butt of jokes. Nobody takes him, his brother Luigi, or their plumbing business seriously, not even his own family. As Mario and Luigi try to fix a leak in the luxury NYC townhouse of a rich black couple (yes, really), they eventually end up getting sucked into a parallel world where Bowser is at it again, chasing after Princess Peach. This caused not the least bit of surprise in those two plucky plumbers, for whatever reason. Countless “isekai” mangas or animes could have been used for inspiration. Clearly, you just don’t travel to a parallel world and just shrug it off. If you are a plumber named Mario, I guess that’s what you do, even if this is your first time leaving the real world.
Princess Peach is a Mary Sue. She can do the most acrobatic moves, making Mario look like a bumbling fool. Mario basically just tags along. There is a cringe-worthy scene in the first 1/3 to 1/2 where Princess Peach conjures up an obstacle course for Mario. He fails, and fails, and fails again. In the end, Peach gets fed up and tells him that he can come along with her and fight Bowser regardless. Then Peach tells him that she was able to do this obstacle course on her first try. Where have I encountered this trope before? It could not have been in any of the countless other feminist movies I did not watch.
There is hardly any moment in the movie where Mario is shown to be competent in the slightest, but there are moments where this is completely inverted, i.e. he succeeds at something, but only seemingly. This can mean that he fixes a leaky pipe, only for a bigger pipe to burst. Later on, he is shown to be basically completely helpless, and in the climactic showdown with Bowser he even needs the help of his loser brother Luigi who suddenly gets his act together.
I also recall another scene I found very distasteful. In the video game lore, much is made of the Italian heritage of Mario and Luigi. Ever since Nintendo put voice samples into their games, Mario speaks with an Italian accent. Yet, in this movie, it is revealed that they are faking the accent. This is a very tasteless joke and nothing but a slap in the face of long-time fans. It reminds me of how Disney, in recent Star Wars movies, has dragged the most iconic characters of this franchise through the mud. Suddenly, you learn that Han Solo was not a hero but instead an intergalactic scammer and all-around despicable human being.
It is not quite clear what this movie wants to achieve, besides catering to feminist sensibilities. If you think that you would enjoy looking at CGI creations of 2D and 3D obstacle courses for Mario, or Mario Kart inspired races then it is probably decent enough. Yet, I cannot take this movie serious at all. Hopefully, Nintendo does not take too many cues from Mario, because if they do, they will have Princess Peach rescue Mario from Bowser in their next game.