“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” isn’t looking like a smash with the critics.
The Nintendo-based film, by Universal and Illumination, has been lauded for its stunning visuals, but has failed to charm reviewers. As of Wednesday afternoon, it earned a 54% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 122 reviews, a “rotten” score.
Thinly plotted, the feature relies heavily on sequences pulled directly from the video games its based on and skips out on character development, according to critics. They also lamented what they deemed unfunny jokes and a voice cast that seemed to be phoning it in. That is, for the exception of Jack Black, who voices the villainous Bowser.
Audiences, on the other hand, have so far responded well to the film, with more than 100 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes leading to a 98% audience score. And box office analysts don’t foresee poor critical reviews deterring moviegoers, particularly families, from venturing to the cinema to see “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.”
The film is expected to become the highest-opening video game adaption at the domestic box office, surpassing “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” which snared $72 million during its debut last year.
At present, forecasts call for “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” to generate more than $100 million over Friday, Saturday and Sunday — and more than $150 million for the full five-day spread starting Wednesday, according to BoxOffice.com. Universal was more bearish, calling for $100 million to $110 million at the domestic box office through the 5-day holiday weekend.
Here’s what critics thought of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”:
The film’s plot centers on Mario and Luigi, brothers from Brooklyn who want to start their own independent plumbing business, much to the chagrin of their disapproving father.
Audiences get a brief taste of what it would have been like to have Chris Pratt (Mario) and Charlie Day (Luigi) preform exaggerated Italian accents as part of an over-the-top TV advertisement for their business. The movie also uses this ad to explain why Mario and Luigi wear giant white gloves.
The movie kicks into gear when “one night the brothers investigate a flood, which is never explained, and find a magical pipe, which is also never explained,” wrote Nicholas Barber in his review of the film for BBC. “The pipe zaps them both to another planet, or possibly another universe. That’s never explained, either.”
The brothers are separated, with Mario landing in the fairy-tale Mushroom Kingdom where he meets Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) and Luigi falling into the lap of the monstrous Bowser, who is set on overtaking the Mushroom Kingdom and marrying Peach.
“The trouble starts when Mario is suddenly surrounded by floating bricks, giant gold coins, ‘Power Up’ cubes, and burbling electronic sound effects, which only make sense in the context of a video game,” Barber said. “It becomes clear at this stage that the directors have given up on making a cartoon which anyone might enjoy, and have concentrated instead on piling on references for the benefit of the games’ devoted fans.”