The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Thirty years ago, the Japanese company Nintendo became reluctant to license its intellectual property when a live-action Super Mario Bros movie commercially and critically failed in 1993. At the time, film critics Siskel and Ebert gave the live-action film two thumbs down, stating “tonal inconsistency and lack of narrative” and placed the movie on their list of the worst films of the year.

In 2015, a new partnership was announced between Nintendo and Universal to develop theme parks called “Super Nintendo World” at Universal Studios in Japan and Hollywood. The success of the parks sparked new conversations about a second attempt at a major motion picture—this time using computer-generated animation. Production started in 2020, and the voice cast was announced in 2021.

The Super Mario Bros movie is an animated action-adventure comedy based on Nintendo’s franchise of Super Mario Bros video games. The film features an origin story for the brothers—Mario and Luigi—Italian American plumbers who start their own plumbing business in Brooklyn, N.Y. Within the first 15 minutes, they are sucked through a pipe into an alternative reality where there is a brewing conflict between the Mushroom Kingdom, led by Princess Peach, and the Kingdom of the Koopas, led by Bowser.

Everything you love about the video game is in this movie—mushrooms, stars, fireballs, green Warp Pipes, Piranha plants, a Tanooki Suit, brick smashing, Rainbow Road, green turtle shells, Bomber Bill, and plenty of red-hot lava. The film also features an all-star roster of voices such as Jack Black (Bowser), Chris Pratt (Mario), Anya Taylor-Joy (Princess Peach), Seth Rogan (Donkey Kong), and Keegan-Michael Key (Toad).

The film grossed 1.36 billion worldwide and broke multiple box-office records, including the biggest worldwide opening weekend ever for an animated film. Although the film lacks any overt spiritual themes, the values of friendship, goodness, loyalty, and sacrifice are front and center. (Rated PG – action and mild violence)

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