The new animated film interpretation of the beloved video game of the same name, The Super Mario Bros Movie (Super Mario Bros) released to theaters this weekend to massive box office success and a very split review between critics and fans. The former seem to find the movie only passable while the latter have given it near perfect ratings across the board and watched the movie in theaters in droves. Its opening weekend reached $377 million which is the highest for 2023 and passing Frozen 2’s opening weekend which was pre-COVID. It is now the second highest grossing opening weekend for any animated film behind only Finding Dory.
So who is right? Audiences or critics? The Conservative Critic asks: Is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? Is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: The Super Mario Bros Movie
Overall Rating: Refreshing and beautiful. SMASH hit!
Overall, Super Mario Bros, was refreshingly simple, family friendly, nostalgic and absolutely stunning visual masterpiece. The movie is great for adult lovers of the game’s legacy and for children newly experiencing the joy of all Mario and his gang have to offer.
The film is a bit nonlinear and the lack of runway on the plotline makes for a bit of meandering and too much exposition which is boring. Children in theaters are not able to connect with some of the lengthy (relative to a child) character development and setup causing them to be a bit bored. But the beautiful artistry, vibrant characters and especially the super fun video game references are more than enough to make up for the slow bits.
With no political agenda and plenty of family values (unexplored as of late by liberal studios), Super Mario Bros is a SMASH hit (get it?).
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Lots of fanservice but a little slow
The biggest issue with Super Mario Bros is that it doesn’t have a long runway on its pretty basic plotline. So a lot of the film’s very restrained and child friendly 1 hour and 44 minute runtime is spent on setting up the characters and the world. The first way-too-many minutes on the film are spent on establishing that Mario and Luigi are brothers who are trying to get a plumbing business started. The fact of this plumbing business, their family’s lack of enthusiasm, and their screw-ups as plumbers does not have any bearing whatsoever on the story once the brothers leave Brooklyn and enter the magical realm other than a very vague connection to Mario and Luigi’s internal motives (very vague). As the story continues, the film takes intermediate breaks to let the characters explain their motivations and brief histories etc. Almost all of it feels pretty unnecessary and it breaks up the fun of the film’s progress.
In the plot’s defense, the reason so much exposition is added seems to be because the filmmakers were so eager to stay as true as possible to the video games. The games have extremely basic plotlines and the only reason they last a long time is because Mario and Luigi and the gang go on a bunch of nonlinear trips all over magical creation for essentially no reason on their quest to complete the very basic plot. The movie was very true to this and added some dialogue to make a feature film. The effect did work and for the most part the nostalgic loyalty to the games’ spirit is more than enough for a good time despite the small slips into boredom.
The best thing about the movie is how the makers seemed to know which part of each iconic game in the Super Mario and Super Smash bros franchise are the favorites for fans. To list the big moments would be too much of a spoiler but the movie really captures the essence of what makes the games so beloved and features all the best moments from the franchise.
Does it have artistic/intellectual value?
Rating: Stunning animation
Simply, the movie is stunning. Illumination studios (who is really making a name for itself as the go-to Children’s film studio since the painful demise of Disney’s credibility) is an apt name for the people that created a film that seems to glow almost as if it has charisma of its own. The shiny characters are perfectly adapted from the games onto the screen. They’re not a perfect match, they’re given a bit of their own characterization to match their voice actors a bit especially in the case of Princess Peach, but the subtle shifts are right to make the movie it’s own but still create the effect of the video game coming to life.
There was a lot of media drama about the voice cast for the film, but really they all did their job fine and the voices became the characters without much distinction at all with the exception of Jack Black as Bowser whose voice is so distinguishable he couldn’t quite mask it entirely away into the character. Chris Pratt being Italian or not being Italian or whatever people had an issue with had 0 bearing on the film’s final product. Anna Taylor Joy as Peach was Peach. Nothing unusual about any of the talent.
Primarily, the quality comes down to how undeniably beautiful the animation is and how it is one of the most spectacular animated visuals for children in several years.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: If anything a bit to the right
There is no political agenda to be found but the film leans conservative for a few reasons. First of all, the central relationship explored in the movie is between two working class American brothers. Super Mario Bros is all about leading men with character and heart supporting each other in a loving and gentle way but also with some blue collar masculine principles like “saving the day” and “using a wrench.” Further the Donkey Kong character is if anything a little of the “fratty” stereotype but he is still an ethical actor and a hero, disavowing the notion that certain kinds of male (albeit – ape) are inherently toxic.
Additionally, Super Mario Bros makes nothing blurry about villains versus heroes. Bowser, no matter his motives, no matter his history, no matter what has made him sad, is the bad guy unambiguously. And bad guys deserve to get beaten by good guys. Lately more liberal studios have struggled to commit to villains and keep rehashing complicated, sympathetic villains that are not only boring and tired but also very confusing to kids. There actually is a right and wrong and it’s okay for kids to learn that in black and white terms. It’s when we’re adults that those lines gray.
Finally, the movie stars Chris Pratt who liberals just absolutely hate for some reason. He is the Apple Pie to their gluten and sugar free diets. Can’t stand him. Therefore the film has an automatic tilt to the right.
Super Mario Bros is refreshingly simple and stunningly beautiful. It is definitely worth viewing especially for families with children.