The Super Mario Bros. Movie Early Buzz: Easter Eggs Cooking In A Shallow Pan

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" adapts Nintendo's beloved video game franchise about the mustachioed Italian-American plumber who fights evil turtles as much as he does clogged toilets (if not more). This is the first film adaptation of the "Super Mario" games in 30 years, the last attempt being the infamous 1993 live-action film "Super Mario Bros." 

That film took some nightmarish creative liberties with the character designs, using practical effects to try and recreate the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom in live action. The 2023 film from Illumination Entertainment, however, uses CG animation. As a result, the ensemble — even the inhuman characters like Bowser (Jack Black) and Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) — look more or less identical to their video game appearances. Even so, the film has been met with reticence, due to the controversial casting of celebrity voice actor — in particular Chris Pratt as Mario. The actor even acknowledged the backlash with good humor in an April Fool's Day post on Instagram.

"The Super Mario Bros Movie" screened early on April 1, 2023, in Los Angeles, and despite the aforementioned concerns, the response from that screening has been largely positive. Particular praise has gone to the animation, humor, and fondness for Nintendo's source material. Responses also indicate that concerns about the film's casting were unfounded.

A 'love letter' to the Super Mario Bros.

Those who attended the "Super Mario Bros. Movie" screening ranged from movie critics to video game critics to simple fans of Mario. One in the former category was Fandango Managing Editor Erik Davis, who called it "the ultimate love letter to every era of Mario."

The positive buzz doesn't end there.

Not everyone is totally enamored with the movie, though.

Illumination's other films include the "Despicable Me" franchise (and by extension its execrable spin-off, "Minions"), "The Secret Life of Pets," "Sing," and Dr. Seuss adaptations "The Lorax" and "The Grinch." Aside from "Despicable Me," the studio has never been a critical favorite.

Of course, it's important to take these reactions, positive or negative, with a grain of salt. As is typical with preview screenings, the audience was weighted towards people already invested in seeing "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," and therefore more likely to rave about it. The anticipation of being among the first to see a movie, and being surrounded by fans, can also cast a rosy glow. Case-in-point: early buzz for last year's "Black Adam" was highly positive, yet when the film was widely released, the response was much more mixed.

Fortunately, you won't have to wait long to make your own judgment. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" will open in theaters in the United States on April 5, 2023, followed by a Japanese release on April 28. Here's the official synopsis:

While working underground to fix a water main, Brooklyn plumbers Mario and brother Luigi (Charlie Day) are transported down a mysterious pipe and wander into a magical new world. But when the brothers are separated, Mario embarks on an epic quest to find Luigi. With the assistance of a Mushroom Kingdom resident Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) and some training from the strong-willed ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), Mario taps into his own power.