The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Aaron Horvath/Michael Jelenic/Pierre Leduc, 2023, USA/Japan)

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is one of the biggest cinematic successes of 2023. The box office numbers don't lie - the film has grossed a whopping $1.362 billion worldwide on a $100 million budget. This places the film as the second highest-grossing film of 2023 (so far). It represents yet another success for the French animation studio Illumination, whose Minions franchise has generated immense box office returns. Illumination seems to be offering counter-programming to Pixar - the films have no pretensions to anything beyond children's entertainment. This is perhaps the great secret to their success.

While crafted with great care, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is targeted very much toward a certain audience. The first audience - kids, particularly very young kids. The second audience - parents who have nostalgia for the Mario games. Anyone outside of these audiences is unlikely to care that much about the film, and it does not have the pretensions to aspire to something more than this. The film has been very successful at appealing to these audiences. 

In terms of Mario lore, the film references the video game canon heavily - there are set pieces ode to Mario KartDonkey Kong, and more obscure games here. But the film is careful not to tamper too much with the existing lore - perhaps the most controversial aspect here is that Mario and his brother Luigi don't speak with their signature accents (they only do this in a commercial for their plumbing company). The highlight voice acting here is of course Jack Black as Bowser, and it is no surprise that his song "Peaches" has become a viral hit in 2023. Super Mario Bros. is light, inoffensive entertainment that is difficult to dislike, but also difficult to love. It is meant to appeal to the broadest audience possible.



Popular Posts