Nintendo and Illumination write a love letter to fans of all ages in “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”

Opinion posted April 10, 2023 in

Over a year and a half ago “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” was announced to the world along with its compelling and divisive cast of celebrities.

After being delayed a few months to April of 2023, the film has finally debuted in theaters and has already been shattering records.

Its $377 million gross is the largest opening for an animated movie worldwide and the second-largest opening domestically.

Critics and fans have been split in reviewing the film, with many critics scolding the film’s story and fans adoring the world of the Super Mario video games being brought to life on the big screen.

Overall, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is unashamed of its nature as a video game adaptation. From the whacky worlds, the wide use of power-ups in the film and the countless callbacks to nearly every mainline Mario game in the franchise.

Longtime fans of the series were smiling ear-to-ear in the theater as musical motifs from all corners of the Mario world played and visual “easter eggs” scattered all over the screen.

Speaking of visuals, Illumination absolutely nailed the animation in this film.

The characters were cute, expressive and most importantly accurate to the source material. It was fantastic how they differentiated between small and big Mario after he ate a mushroom.

Even more impressive were the locations brought to life in animation. Settings like Rainbow Road, the Mushroom Kingdom and Bowser’s Castle were so vibrant and alive. They felt like they were pulled right from the games.

It was clear from the first trailer this movie was going to be gorgeous, but more uncertain was the quality of the voice cast.

Numerous fans were bothered by the casting of Chris Pratt as the voice of Mario and the first trailer did not help. Some went further and questioned Nintendo and the studio’s decision to go for an all-celebrity cast.

Thankfully for Mario fans, the voice cast knocked it out of the park. Pratt delivered a believable and passionate Mario, but his co-stars stole the show in the voice department.

Jack Black as Bowser was always going to be a treat and he delivered big time. His musical number “Peaches” was hilarious to watch as Bowser tickled the ivories.

A surprise voice standout was Kevin Michael Richardson as Bowser’s right-hand wizard Kamek.

One of the best scenes in the movie features Bowser and Kamek “jamming” together at the piano playing the famous underground theme usually featured in level 1-2 of the Mario games.

They really nailed the characterization of Kamek throughout.

The surprise standout of the main voice cast was Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach.

For a movie and franchise lacking in female characters, Taylor-Joy delivered a powerful and exciting princess who was not just an object for Mario to save, but someone to show the plumber the platforming ropes and take on Bowser alongside him.

Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong and Charlie Day as Luigi were all great in their respective roles as well.

And of course, Charles Martinet, the voice actor of Mario in the games, was brilliant to hear as Giuseppe in the pizzeria and fittingly as Mario’s dad.

The movie looked great and the cast encapsulated the characters, but how was the overall story?

Admittedly the story is fast-paced and quite simple. The movie likes to move from one cool place to the next keeping the audience excited and engaged for a lack of a ton of story sense.

Mario wants to save his brother and Bowser wants to marry Peach and take over the Mushroom Kingdom.

As stated earlier, this movie unashamedly embraces itself as an adaptation of a video game. The story stakes are never complex in any Mario adventure.

However, it would have been nice to have a bit more continuity with the characters' development and the story like Luigi learning to conquer his fear at some point or Bowser having a bit clearer motivation for marrying Peach.

While the story was quite simple, there were still some beats that really hit such as the brothers being stronger together.

All in all, this is a movie that will have audiences laughing out loud and full of joy seeing some of their favorite video games brought to the big screen.

The people behind this film obviously love Mario and cared about every corner of every frame being true to the source material, something that all Nintendo fans will be stoked to see.

This movie is made for Mario fans first. Whether young or old, this picture was created for the enjoyment of those who popped on a Nintendo and sat for hours trying to defeat Bowser as the beloved mustachioed hero.

The heart of this movie overcomes all other shortcomings.

Rating: 5/5

Maclain Young is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email macyoung21@gmail.com.