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The Super Mario Bros. Movie made me appreciate Wreck-It Ralph more than ever

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The Super Mario Bros. MovieThe animated comedy, starring the platform-hopping plumber with the iconic moustache, has been a huge hit. Boasting an all-star voice cast consisting of Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, and more, Nintendo’s first adaptation of the beloved video game franchise in three decades brought in $377 globally during its opening weekend. Earned over a million.

Those are some big numbers, but not everyone is warming up to Mario and Luigi’s latest cinematic adventure. As my colleague Joshua Rivera describes in his review, The Super Mario Bros. Movie “Extremely grand and painstakingly faithful [to Nintendo’s worlds and characters]But “there are brief moments of frustrating silliness that can arguably make.” [for] A more memorable film. Maddy Myers, Play Gamez’s deputy games editor, had her own take: Namely, that it’s a straightforward, breezy, risk-free movie—which made it feel boring in comparison to the disastrous but memorable 1993 live-action cult classic starring Bob Hawkins and John Leguizamo. Makes it happen Luigi.

Everyone else is weighing in with their two cents on the Koopa Troope film, so I figured, what the hell, I might as well go with my take on Discourse Colosseum: The Super Mario Bros. Movie Ok. Aggressively Good, It’s the low-calorie, high-fructose-corn-syrup-infused entertainment you’d expect from a movie designed to appeal to kids and “kids of all ages.” In addition to a handful of notable scenes (the Rainbow Road sequence, Mario and Luigi Kamen Rider,Neon Genesis Evangelion-style combo kick ass finale), this is the kind of animated comedy that will just disappear from your mind as soon as you walk out of the theater.

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(LR) Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) plumbers carry tools and raise their fists and smile in The Super Mario Bros. movie.

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Image: Nintendo Illumination / Universal Pictures

But at several points during the movie, I felt like I’d seen a version of this same movie done before, but better. (And no, I’m not talking about the many, Very same basis as in 1993 Super Mario Bros.i am talking wreck it Ralph, a 2012 Disney animated comedy about a sentimental arcade villain who rebels against his role as a “bad guy” to become a hero in his own right. It’s the best Super Mario Bros. movie that isn’t about Super Mario Bros., and it engages with a defining element of Mario’s cultural legacy that goes completely unnoticed in the universe of Illumination’s 2022 feature: Mario a video game. Have character.

You’re probably saying, “What are you talking about? There are more video game references in the Mario movie than I can count. At that point, you’d be right. Lots of video game Easter eggs. Nestled near every frame in crannies and damn corners The Super Mario Bros. Movie that collecting to make an exhaustive list of them can be both futile and boring to read. But I’m not talking about references, I’m talking about Mario as a relatable, fleshed-out character who also reflects the specific things we love most about him. .

During the 40 years of his existence, Mario has been a lot: a doctor, a postal worker, an Olympic athlete, a football player, a golfer, a parkour-hopping janitorial janitor with a talking water-hose bag, a race car driver, a carpenter, and yes, most famously, a plumber. But before all those things, Mario was a video game character, that’s an obvious fact. The Super Mario Bros. Movie obliquely refer to, but never fully acknowledge. Within the film’s universe, Mario and his beloved Klutz, a brother of Luigi, are “real”; they have a Real family of extended relatives and Real Jobs as an Entrepreneur Plumber. they got Real bills to pay, and a Real An ex-boss with ass visor paint that makes him look like the kind of guy who films himself behind the wheel of his big ol’ automobile, bragging to social media about how minorities are scary and women hate him Wrong for not being attractive.

(L-R) Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), Mario (Chris Pratt), and Toad (Keegan Michael-Key) behind the wheel of their respective vehicles in The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Image: Nintendo Illumination / Universal Pictures

video games actually exist in the world The Super Mario Bros. Movie: A jumpman The arcade cabinet is briefly seen in the film’s Punch-Out Pizzeria, and later, Mario himself plays sadly. baby icarus What appears to be a Nintendo Entertainment System. (Which raises a number of existential questions I don’t have the time or space to unpack here.) When Mario’s legacy as a video game character is only touched upon in the film, it’s between him and his brother. Via is carried through the scenes to park. Navigating a platforming section such as a Brooklyn construction area, or running a purpose-built “obstacle course” to ensure that Princess Peach is ready to take over the throne of the Mushroom Kingdom. (Why the Mushroom Kingdom’s rule is determined by a hovering platforming level is never explicitly stated, but whatever. Monarchies are clearly nonsensical to begin with.)

I suspect that one possible reason for never addressing Mario’s existence as a video game character is not a specific lack of creativity or insight on the part of the film’s creators, but simply that wreck it Ralph Already nailed that base better than they could have done.

wreck it Ralph what is video game who Framed Roger Rabbit is to the so-called Golden Age of American animation: a loving, feature-length tribute to a massively influential medium, a vision filled with gags lovingly crafted to pay homage to that medium’s history. Both films also tell memorable, distinctive stories that are independent of those honorees. That last part is probably the biggest point of contention among critics and fans alike. The Super Mario Bros. Movie, The film is a crowd-pleaser, sure, but its focus on throwing sight gags at a potentially video game-loving audience, while offering little for anyone outside that demographic, inadvertently exemplifies the narcissism of video game culture. It reflects.

(LR) Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweitz (Sarah Silverman) punch out against a backdrop of candy-like trees in Wreck-It Ralph.

Image: Walt Disney Pictures

That’s why wreck it Ralph stands out from the comparison. It is a video game comedy with characters and events strong enough to appeal even to viewers who do not play video games themselves. The scale of satisfaction for that film is not entirely dependent on how many references are packed into its run time. wreck it Ralph There are loads of game references, from character cameos to direct references to arcade culture, gameplay, and more. But the story itself doesn’t rest on that; It hinges on the personalities of the protagonists and performances by John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Alan Tudyk and others. than the charisma and heart they bring to their movie mario in The Super Mario Bros. Movie There is very little personality, which accounts for both the character’s reputation as an idealized video game hero and Chris Pratt’s “Xerox of a La Croix flavor”-like vocal performance.

if you loved The Super Mario Bros. Movie And think that’s the best expression of an imaginable video game character, that’s fine. I’m not here to rob you of your yumms or your taste buds. This is not the article for you. This is for those who didn’t enjoy The Super Mario Bros. Movie. And my message to them is this: go watch wreck it Ralph instead. It’s a fun, engaging, original cinematic take on the arcade game’s legacy that totally ties into the idea of ​​you, the viewer, actually playing and enjoying the game. It tells a compelling tale of unlikely friendship and redemptive self-realization, while paying loving homage to the medium’s most iconic franchises and characters. you ain’t gonna get that out there The Super Mario Bros. Movie, so stop searching it there. Your entertainment is in another palace.

wreck it Ralph is streaming on Disney Plus, and is available to rent or buy Amazon, Vudu’sand other digital platforms.

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