It may enjoy cult status now, but 1993’s Super Mario Bros was such a disaster upon release that Nintendo has kept the character away from the silver screen ever since. But three decades later and these adaptations have seen a resurgence of late; so far this year, The Last of Us and Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves have both enjoyed critical and commercial success proving these projects can be done right. So if there’s as good a time as any time for everyone’s favourite plumber to get his Hollywood redemption, it’s now.

Courtesy of Universal

Illumination’s candy-coloured The Super Mario Bros Movie is certainly faithful to the moustache-rocking, dungaree-sporting Italian handyman and his peers with enough easter eggs and references to fill the Mushroom Kingdom. Whether it’s Mario Kart, Luigi’s Haunted Mansion or even Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast, there isn’t a shortage of nods to the extensive lore and games of this world for keen-eyed fans to pick up on. Nostalgia can only get you so far though. The script is trite and surface-level, cramming in what feels like several films worth of jokes and narrative into the brisk 90-minute runtime. So it’s all just a bit inert.

Considering how strong the first 10-15 minutes are in establishing the tone, this world and who Luigi and Mario are within it, it’s especially disappointing that what follows is so rushed and flimsy. Character motivations aren’t explained; conflict is set up and then resolved in the following scene; everything is too convenient. The script ebbs and flows without any rhyme or reason and at such a breakneck pace that there’s no room for things to mean anything.

Courtesy of Universal

Perhaps the biggest issue is that the film doesn’t know its audience. Despite millennials and older generations being more in tune with the game’s status in the cultural zeitgeist, the writing seems to pander to a far younger demographic with jokes skewing towards mind-numbing gags instead of anything thoughtful or witty. And so The Super Mario Bros. Movie is caught at a crossroads; it wants to cater to all but doesn’t quite know how to and the result is something awkward and clunky in the middle. But this is the Illumination way: conceits with such potential and an abundance of visual, imaginative splendour that end up curbing it all in favour of recycled tropes and the overdone formula. It may get them a pass for Despicable Me or The Secret Life of Pets but I think everyone can agree that, even though the end result is comfortably average, The Super Mario Bros. Movie deserved so much more – as did the fans.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie releases in now available on demand.