‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ delights families, not critics

The long-anticipated “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” released in theaters last Wednesday, marking the beloved Nintendo character’s first adventure on the big screen in animated form. With the goomba-stomping plumber being such a recognizable and internationally-renowned character, it was only a matter of time before we’d see another attempt at a Mario movie, following the failed live-action “Super Mario Bros.” film three decades ago. 

This brand new journey for Mario proved to be a success, with the film achieving an impressive $377 million debut globally over Easter weekend. This was to be expected, as the film offers a great family viewing experience as well as waves of nostalgia for anyone who has ever played a Mario game.  

Luckily, the film lives up to the hype in all regards and offers exactly what a Mario movie needs to offer: plenty of references to the games, a great score that pays homage to the franchise’s best music over the decades and an extremely light and palatable watching experience with a running time of just over 90 minutes. 

The primary criticism of the movie among critics regards the film’s simplicity in the plot.

To start with many fans’ biggest concern from the original announcement of the film and ensuing trailers, the voice acting is surprisingly well done. We all seemed to have a collective gasp when it was announced that Chris Pratt of “Guardians of The Galaxy” and “Parks and Recreation” would be voicing Mario. 

However, Pratt and the other decorated cast members do a more-than-fine job of voicing these iconic characters. The highlight, to no one’s surprise, is the performance from Jack Black as Bowser. The tone of his voice perfectly suits Mario’s reptilian rival, and at one point, we even see Black as Bowser singing a piano-accompanied ballad to Princess Peach.

The animation and art style also get the job done. The film offers colorful and appealing visuals without becoming too visually stimulating. The audience is greeted with stunning images of the Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser’s Castle and Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road. The art style truly does the traditional art style of the games justice while making it all seem more natural for the theater screen. 

As mentioned before, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is ripe with references to the games, and these easter eggs are one of the defining characteristics of the film. A fan-favorite is the Nintendo GameCube intro sound as Luigi’s ringtone, among others. 

Luigi was voiced by Charlie Day, whose voice acting credits include Benny from “The LEGO Movie” and Art from “Monsters University.” Image courtesy of @mariomoviejp, Twitter

One of the most admirable details about the movie’s plot is that we’re finally seeing Mario and Luigi in their plumber professions again, which was a more significant detail in the original video games. We’re introduced to the brothers as they attempt to develop their failing plumbing business in real-life Brooklyn. It’s only when they stumble onto a mysterious pipe in the sewers do they discover the Mushroom Kingdom we’re familiar with from the games. This narrative choice is refreshing, as it adds a unique angle to the movie and gives it an identity separate from the games. 

The primary criticism of the movie among critics regards the film’s simplicity in the plot. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” doesn’t do much to differentiate from the basic storyline of Mario saving the princess that we’re so accustomed to from the games, and many argue this is to the movie’s detriment.

While there’s some validity to this critique, the point of the movie seemed to be to translate the simplicity of the games’ story to the big screen, which it succeeds in doing. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. While its plot and dialogue are often surface-level and it’s not the most ambitious movie, the film offers a fun and casual experience that any fan of the games will certainly get enjoyment from.


4/5 Stars 



Featured image courtesy of @supermariomovie, Twitter