I, like many, scoffed at the idea behind The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
We’ve been down this road before, and it didn’t end well. While the 2023 adaptation of the Super Mario Bros. franchise would be animated, Illumination is far from my first choice. Minions style humor doesn’t do it for me, but I digress; I am not this film’s target audience.
Or so I thought.
As it turns out, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is 92 minutes of pure fan service. From non-stop easter eggs, iconic character appearances, and even storylines are ripped straight from the games.
The Voice Cast Sounds Like They’re Having the Time of Their Lives
Any animated film is nothing without a talented voice cast. The Super Mario Bros. Movie has that in spades. We all knew Jack Black would bring everything he could for the role of Bowser. Despite the high expectations, he exceeds them, even performing a musical number. Likewise, Anya Taylor-Joy’s Peach is impressively presented. As our movie review points out, she’s not the stereotypical damsel in distress.
Going into the film, everyone expected the worst from Chris Pratt as Mario. Yet even Pratt rises to the occasion. Charlie Day (Luigi), Seth Rogen (Donkey Kong), and everybody else help build the immersion of being transported into the Mushroom Kingdom.
Is the movie a perfect example of cinematic art? No, far from it, but that’s also not what The Super Mario Bros. Movie is trying to do. The screenplay builds upon a plot involving impressing your father and believing in yourself, but that’s to be expected. We need to manufacture drama at the right places. With a runtime of 92 minutes (the perfect runtime, according to my wife), that manufactured drama is far from the main focus.
A Love Letter to the Super Mario Games
What is the main focus is bringing the world of Super Mario to life. Mission accomplished here by Illumination. From the iconic musical scores, wide cast of characters, and constant references to the games, this is how you pay homage to the source material.
The best example is actually within the movie’s plot and character development. Some may scoff at Luigi being thrown to the sidelines as a scardey-cat, but that’s how he is in the games. There are three Luigi’s Mansion titles based around this character trait!
Furthermore, some scratched their heads at the idea of Bowser wanting to marry Princess Peach. This is another example of the movie borrowing from the storyline of the games: Bowser attempts to marry Peach in Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo even released an official amiibo of Bowser in his tuxedo!
The cherry on top is the iconic gaming sequences brought to life in the movie. We’ve seen moments like this before; love it or hate it, 2005’s DOOM had an incredibly first-person action scene that almost made up for having to sit through the rest of the movie. Likewise, the Super Mario Bros. Movie embraces the franchise’s gameplay, whether it’s the several platforming sequences or the Mario Kart-style action scene on Rainbow Road.
Bring on the Eventual Sequels
We rarely see video game adaptations stay this faithful to the source material. Yet with HBO’s The Last of Us and now The Super Mario Bros. Movie, it’s becoming clear we’re entering a golden age. Our favorite games are coming to life, and they’re not sucking. On the contrary, it’s the opposite: they’re awesome.
Nintendo and Universal Pictures are undoubtedly waiting for the right time to announce a sequel. Charlie Day talked about wanting to do a Luigi’s Mansion movie. Super Nintendo World is now open at Universal Studios Hollywood, with another Super Nintendo World coming to Orlando, Florida. The Super Mario Bros. Movie will probably make an insane amount of money at the box office. If this indicates the future of Nintendo movies, then let’s-a-go!