I departed the preview screening of The Super Mario Bros. Movie – which I watched on 4 April, the day before its official cinematic release – with one overriding sensation: joy. As a Mario fan for as long as I can remember, I think Illumination Entertainment's animated take on Nintendo's famous plumbers is a perfect exercise in fan service.
But there's a problem: the critics don't agree. At the time of writing the Rotten Tomatoes 'Tomatometer' is sat at a mere 53% positive based on 94 reviews. The fans, however, already disagree: when I first looked this morning, the site's 'Audience Score' was at 100% positive. And I think millions of other Nintendo fans will agree, because the new Super Mario Bros. Movie is hilariously funny entertainment.
Warning: minor spoilers for The Super Mario Bros. Movie
I can see what some are saying: that there's not much of a storyline. Um, hello, have you played the Mario games? It's always the same: Bowser captures Princess Peach, Mario comes to the rescue. It's the journey of getting there that's fun. I mean, what are people expecting, a high-brow Christopher Nolan adaptation?
Besides, what Illumination Entertainment gets oh-so-right – this being the studio that made Minions and The Secret Life of Pets, an art-style you can undoubtedly see in the Mario movie to some degree – is the sheer volume of Easter eggs that Mario fans will love. And how apt, given that it's the Easter break and the movie is out now in cinemas.
Here's just a handful of favourites (spoiler): the "but our Princess is in another castle" gag; the 'Punch-Out!!' window sticker that Mario flies through when under attack; that nobody knows what the heck Lakitu's creatures are called (Spineys, c'mon!); the piano duet where Bowser casually integrates the Underworld theme from the first Mario game; and so many more that fans will spot.
Indeed, I can't remember the last time I was in a packed-out cinema where every couple of minutes groups of grown men would burst out laughing. Half the audience were kids, who also loved the on-screen action, but who probably didn't catch many of these cap-doffs of genius Easter eggs. But that didn't matter, because that's perfect family entertainment right there.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie stars Chris Pratt as Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Jack Black as Bowser, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Keegan-Michael May as Toad, and many more (including the genius use of Chris Martinet, the original and current voice actor who plays Mario in Nintendo's wide array of video games). It's a great cast that give real gumption to proceedings – Black as Bowser, in particular, was my favourite of the lot.
So ignore the critics: the new Super Mario Bros. Movie is great, I think millions of fans will agree, as will the rest of your family. So if you're thinking of heading to the cinema during this holiday period, I'd highly recommend this animated caper. It's 92 minutes of fun that Nintendo fans will love.