Children of Nintendo and the Super Mario Bros. video game saga have rejoiced with the release of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The animated film stars an ensemble cast of Chris Pratt and Charlie Day as Mario & Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach and Jack Black as Bowser, with Keegan Michael-Key as Toad, and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong. The movie follows Mario and Luigi as they are transported from Brooklyn to an alternate universe and are caught in a battle between Princess Peach and the Toad Kingdom, and Bowser and his army of Koopas. The film has already had meteoric success at the box office, with it becoming the most successful opening weekend for a movie that is adapted from a video game, as well as becoming the most successful opening weekend for any animated movie worldwide, beating out Frozen II by $19 million at the box office.
It became very apparent within the first 20 minutes that this movie was made more for kids. I, at 20 years old, and a disciple of Mario-Kart in my childhood, was still delighted to see all of the familiar characters come to life in an almost exclusively light-hearted manner. The characters and onscreen events do not have a lot of depth or emotional weight other than what needs to be conveyed for the age bracket of kids that the movie seems to be intended for. The film is very fast-paced, and is very straightforward with its dialogue. An example: “We need to save the world,” to which someone responds, “Okay,” and then they spring into action. Very simplistic, without a second thought to it. With all of this, the movie falls into a lot of cliches that the Mario characters possess in their mythology: The Brooklyn-based plumbing duo fake Italian accents for the purpose of branding their new plumbing startup, while Peach and Mario have a flirty friendship. In contrast to the games, Princess Peach is not a damsel-in-distress. Instead, she is an empowered character who is able to assist Mario in saving Luigi from Bowser. When the trailer was released for this movie, the sight of Princess Peach in a biker suit added a modern twist to the character that I was very excited to see executed in the movie. Giving her autonomy and the ability to fight Bowser and his forces made me more excited to see where she would go over the course of the movie.
To older audiences who have grown up playing the various games across the Super Mario Bros. franchise, there is a lot of representation for the wide catalog of games. Elements of Super Mario, Mario-Kart, Luigi’s Mansion, and Super Mario 64, among others are shown at various points throughout the film to really make it a true Super Mario Bros. movie. Although it possesses a lot of light-hearted humor and dramatic flair, compared to say, Frozen, whose story carries a bit more emotional weight, the film’s nostalgic energy had me peering through the film to look for any easter eggs from my childhood favorites.
This is a great movie to watch, and one that anyone of any age could find enjoyable. A lot of critics hold discourse about how strong this movie is, while audiences have been receiving it well. While it is mainly targeted toward children with its execution, it is a great movie to check out with friends either at the theater, or from the comfort of your own living room when it becomes available for digital download in the future. A post-credit scene depicting a Yoshi egg (who was only briefly featured) is shown cracking, which I felt left an opportunity for the Mario franchise to grow and have more presence within the film industry. As a child of Peach and Yoshi in Mario-Kart, I’m very excited to see what the future holds for this new film franchise.