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Candy Coated Nostalgia - The Super Mario Bros. Movie


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By: Isaac P. Ale
August 23, 2023

Chris Pratt and Charlie Day as Mario and Luigi The Super Mario Bros. Movie [2023]

Film

Now streaming on Peacock, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is exactly what you would expect from a film adaptation of the beloved video game characters. Well, that is if you haven't come to expect the original live-action 1993 film Super Mario Bros. which featured Bob Hoskins as Mario, John Leguizamo as Luigi, and a classically unhinged Dennis Hopper as Bowser. Instead, we're given a candy coated, pastel animated film from Illumination studios that is seriously packed with A-list talent.

From Chris Pratt voicing Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, to Jack Black as Bowser The Super Mario Bros. Movie has no shortage of names to put on the billing. One would really anticipate the voice acting to not be one of the weakest links of the film given the sizable list of talented actors and actresses, but alas, that's not true. The voicing of the various characters, outside of Black's heavy metal Bowser interpretation, are uneven and imbalanced across one another. I wouldn't be surprised if this was another Ghosted situation where at no point, were any of these actors or actresses in the recording booth at the same time.

While the movie tries very hard to punch home an emotional connection between Mario and Luigi, the vocal disconnect from Pratt and Day detracts from the setup. No amount of flashbacks or heroic Luigi moments such as saving Mario from Bowser's fire, could salvage then hearing Pratt haphazardly saying something about being brothers.

Even Vin Diesel talking about family hits harder.

In terms of animation, Illumination knocked it out of the park! They have really solidified a 3-Dish almost clay looking style that's apparent in franchises like Sing!, Despicable Me, and The Secret Life of Pets. It brings a fun dimension to the animated medium and they really pushed the envelope with The Super Mario Bros. Movie. There are multiple scenes that emulate a Super Mario Bros. videogame setting with side-scrolling and jumping action pieces that are sure to bring on waves of nostalgic joy.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie The Super Mario Bros. Movie [2023]

Then there's the karts.

Odes to the various Mario Kart games are rampant in the film, especially with the introduction of the Kong's such as Cranky Kong (Fred Armisen) and Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen), many of whom only travel via kart. There's even a scene where Mario, Princess Peach and Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) are creating their own karts that is a complete remake of the Mario Kart 8 menu. Needless to say, I needed to play some Mario Kart after the film which means I'm probably the target audience for all of those sequences.

Visually appealing and nostalgia inducing, the movie also is jam-packed with a score that manuevers around the wide variety of Mario themes. An additional layer of Easter Eggs and nostalgia-inducing themes results from the marriage of Illumination's animation and Brian Tyler's Mario theme inspired score. Not to mention I am officially #TeamNominateJackBlack for his operatic "Peaches" as done by Bowser. It is not only a banger of a song but it hilariously ties in the plot point of Bowser being helplessly in love with Peach, a pretty fun twist that I wasn't expecting.

The rest of the story however is nothing to write home about. Clunky dialogue and cramming in way more adventure than there needed to be results in rushed moments where you would be wanting more. Bowser's jealousy of Mario getting close to Peach is a pivotal piece of the film and it's almost cast to the side just to shove in more nostalgic callbacks.

Of course I'm judging the film outside of the bubble in which it was created, which is to serve as a great piece of family fun at the theater. Looking at it in that context I will say there's a reason The Super Mario Bros. Movie has grossed $1.3B at the worldwide box office. Because its just good old fashioned family fun! The pastel filled animated world is appealing to look at and the nostalgia is not as unwelcome as one would expect. Of course its nothing great for those looking to watch a good movie, but for the family-with-young-kids-that-like-Mario, sure lets-a-go.

Froth

Every summer there's a beautiful event in Seattle at the beloved Metropolitan Market. I'm referring to the phenomenon known as Peach-O-Rama. This beautiful event focuses on the Peaches grown by local farmers (minus one California Farm, but that's still kinda local) and how delicious they are. These peaches are in season, ripe and ready for a juicy crunch. Thus it only makes sense that one of the local breweries that has a great resume of sours tap into the power of the peach for a collab. Urban Family Brewing, in collaboration with Metropolitan Market, has produced their very own Peach-O-Rama fruited sour! This beverage, also in celebration of Princess Peach because themes, is a delightfully light and sweet leaning sour that is undeniably refreshing. The peaches bring a really nice aroma to the usual citrusy sour and this being a barrel aged brew brings all of the flavors up to the max.

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