The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)
92 min|Animation, Adventure, Comedy|05 Apr 2023
7.0Rating: 7.0 / 10 from 233,409 usersMetascore: 46
A plumber named Mario travels through an underground labyrinth with his brother Luigi, trying to save a captured princess.

Who hasn’t played Mario Bros or Donkey Kong? In the 1980s and 1990s, both were extremely popular games released by Nintendo. Even a live-action film was produced in 1993, although it turned out to be a flop. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a 3D animated film produced by Chris Meladandri, known for the successful Despicable Me and Minions series. This film was directed by the filmmaker duo Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic and features the voices of well-known stars, including Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Seth Rogen, Jack Black, Charlie Day, and Keegan Michael Key. So, how did this simple game adaptation evolve into a fictional story?

Mario (Pratt) and his younger brother, Luigi (Day), are a pair of unsuccessful plumbers, constantly undermined by their family and the citizens of Brooklyn. One day, while repairing the city’s pipeline network, Mario is sucked into the fantasy world of the Mushroom Kingdom. Meanwhile, Luigi is drawn into the dark land led by Bowser (Black). Bowser intends to rule the entire region, including the Mushroom Kingdom, and marry the queen, Peach (Joy). Peach then trains Mario to defeat Bowser and save Luigi. They also enlist the support of the Forest Kingdom led by King Kong. Thus, the adventure begins.

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The story offers very little exposition, lacking in both character development and conflict resolution. Weak exposition weakens our sympathy for the characters. The story is too flat, and there is no significant threat from the antagonist, as the main target audience for this film is children. The Mad Max-style action moments in the second half fail to provide compelling entertainment. As a result, adult audiences may easily lose interest, apart from children. The film’s strength lies only in the visually stunning scenes and the visualization of the game action.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a perfect spectacle for its target audience, even though it may not appeal to all moviegoers. The message that can be inserted into the story, compared to Despicable Me, is also far off. At least, Minions can entertain through the ridiculous behavior of the characters. If you’re looking for more family entertainment, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) can offer much more than Mario Bros. If you are a true Mario fan, it’s worth a watch, but personally, I’d rather watch D&D all over again.

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His hobby has been watching films since childhood, and he studied film theory and history autodidactically after graduating from architectural studies. He started writing articles and reviewing films in 2006. Due to his experience, the author was drawn to become a teaching staff at the private Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta, where he taught Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory from 2003 to 2019. His debut film book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2008, which divides film art into narrative and cinematic elements. The second edition of the book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2018. This book has become a favorite reference for film and communication academics throughout Indonesia. He was also involved in writing the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Vol. 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Additionally, he authored the "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). Until now, he continues to write reviews of the latest films at and is actively involved in all film productions at the Montase Film Community. His short films have received high appreciation at many festivals, both local and international. Recently, his writing was included in the shortlist (top 15) of Best Film Criticism at the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival. From 2022 until now, he has also been a practitioner-lecturer for the Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts in the Independent Practitioner Program.


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