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The Super Mario Bros. Movie - Everything You Need To Know

Cracking the "video game movie code" is no easy feat. Historically speaking, these adaptations have bombed at the box office and been skewered by critics. Even everybody's favorite Italian plumber found himself in 1993's disastrous "Super Mario Bros." movie — a film long hailed as one of the worst video game movies of all time. But Nintendo wanted to give the Koopa-stomping hero a second chance, and on April 5, 2023, Mario jumped back onto the big screen.

From the combined forces of Nintendo, distributor Universal, and production studio Illumination (the same company behind the "Minions" franchise and the "Sing" series), audiences were treated to "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." The animated film featured an absolutely stacked cast and impressive visuals, but did it deliver a fun romp for video game fans of all ages? How many gold coins did it collect at the box office? Were critics psyched to see the film, or did they come off as cranky as old Cranky Kong himself? If you want answers, read on for everything you need to know about "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."

What is the plot of The Super Mario Bros. Movie?

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" finds the titular siblings trying get their own plumbing business off the ground in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, their self-starting zeal backfires when they majorly mess up on the job. Hoping to redeem themselves, they speed to an impending plumbing disaster, only to find a magical pipe that sucks them into an alternate dimension. Unfortunately, the brothers are tossed into two different realms. Mario finds himself in the magical world of Mushroom Kingdom — home to the adorable Toad and Princess Peach — while Luigi ends up in the Dark Lands, where he's taken prisoner by the villainous Bowser.

The king of the Koopas, Bowser has got some pretty big plans. He wants to marry Princess Peach, and if the blonde-haired royal says no, he's going to unleash some serious destruction upon the Mushroom Kingdom. Needless to say, Peach isn't about to let this lovestruck conqueror carry her off or carve up her kingdom, and Mario won't rest until he frees Luigi from Bowser's grasp. With Peach teaching him the ropes of this new world, Mario will go toe to toe with Donkey Kong, take a "Mad Max"-inspired trip down the Rainbow Road, and prove nothing can stop brotherly love in his battle against Bowser.

Who stars in The Super Mario Bros. Movie?

Universal and Illumination spared no expense when it comes to casting "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." Chris Pratt of "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Jurassic World" fame voices Mario, and Charlie Day of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" joins him as Luigi. Anya Taylor-Joy of "The Queen's Gambit" and "The Menu" voices the female lead, Princess Peach, and Jack Black belts out some epic rock ballads as the antagonistic Bowser. 

Rounding out the cast, Keegan-Michael Key portrays Toad, and Seth Rogen brings Donkey Kong to life, alongside Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong. Kevin Michael Richardson of "Lilo & Stitch" is Kamek, Sebastian Maniscalco of "The Irishman" is Spike, and Khary Payton of "The Walking Dead" is the king of the penguins. And if you've got a keen ear, you no doubt recognized Charles Martinet as the Mario brothers' dad. Martinet plays the Mario brothers in the games, and he's joined here by other voice actors such as Scott Menville, Jessica DiCicco, John DiMaggio, and Juliet Jelenic as the scene-stealing nihilist Lumalee.

Who produced, directed, and wrote The Super Mario Bros. Movie?

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is the result of two powerful forces coming together: Nintendo and Illumination. And that collaborative dynamic is represented in the film's producers. On one side, you've got Chris Meledandri, the producer behind the "Despicable Me" and "Sing" franchises. On the other side, you've got Shigeru Miyamoto, the genius who created characters like Donkey Kong, Link, Zelda, and yes, Mario himself. Together, they've brought their animation and video game knowledge, respectively, to the big screen.

As for who directed, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" recruited two figures who are quite adept at handling animated projects – Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, the filmmakers behind "Teen Titans Go! To the Movies." Plus, they worked from a script penned by Matthew Fogel, who previously wrote "The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part" and "Minions: The Rise of Gru."

What is The Super Mario Bros. Movie rated?

Believe it or not, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" did not earn a hard R rating from the MPA. As you might assume, this animated film from Illumination received the standard rating for family fare — PG, which perfectly lines up with Illumination's other offerings, a la "Despicable Me" and "The Secret Life of Pets." According to the Classification and Ratings Administration's website, the movie earned its PG rating for "action and mild violence."

This violence is incredibly mild. Anyone familiar with the games knows Mario's propensity for dishing out pain only extends to jumping on Koopas or occasionally punching a Goomba with a white-gloved fist. And it's the same for the film, where the action is light-hearted and comical, such as Donkey Kong hilariously slapping Mario around or a penguin army assaulting Bowser with snowballs and the Koopa Kamek returning the favor by magically tossing them aside.

How did critics and audiences respond to The Super Mario Bros. Movie?

Sometimes critics and audience members are pretty much in perfect alignment. For proof, take a look at recent titles like "John Wick: Chapter 4" and "Creed III," where almost everyone came to the same conclusion — these movies rock. However, sometimes you'll find a film where there seems to be a vast gulf between critics and average moviegoers, a la "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score for this animated flick is a wildly impressive 96% based on 5,000+ rating, and over on IMDb, it has a 7.4 rating out of 10 based on 31,000 ratings.

So yeah, those are strong numbers, and in fairness, some critics did have a good time visiting the Mushroom Kingdom. For example, Christian Holub of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "It's all quite fun, with a good sense of humor and a consistent computer-animated aesthetic."

But for the most part, the majority of critics thought "Super Mario Bros." wasn't that super, as the film has a 56% critical score on Rotten Tomatoes. Our very own Reuben Baron wrote in his review, "Where the 'Mario' game series has included some of the most creative and innovative work in the medium over the past 40 years, the 'Mario' movie is only mildly creative and couldn't have innovation any further from its mind." Claudia Puig of FilmWeek concurred, saying, "What it seems to have forgotten is creating an engaging story," and Calum Marsh of The New York Times wrote, "While the details are meticulous, the attitude is all wrong, trading the simple, unaffected charm that has served the character so well since his introduction ... for a snarky and fatuous air that leans hard on winking humor and bland, hackneyed irony."

How did The Super Mario Bros. Movie perform at the box office?

While critics weren't fond of "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," people showed up in droves at theaters and proved Mario is a box office superstar. Over its opening five-day run, the magical adventure earned $375.6 million worldwide, which is the biggest opening ever for an animated movie. It's also the best opening ever for a video game adaptation, and it's the best opening of 2023. Want some more impressive stats? That $375.6 million in five days is more than "Scream VI" earned during its entire run. It's more than "John Wick: Chapter 4" has made. It's more than even "Creed III" has made. In true Mario fashion, that mustachioed plumber has been jumping all over the competition, certainly guaranteeing further big-screen adventures for himself and his green-clad brother.