“Super Mario Bros. Movie”: a superstar of a story


Jessica Rios

Despite mixed reviews on the movie, “Super Mario Bros.The Movie” was a thrilling and entertaining ride for many audiences. The animation was stunning and there was a lot of heart poured into the making of it as demonstrated through its homage to the game series along with several references and easter eggs.

Jessica Rios

From the world-building of the mushroom kingdom to the kong kingdom’s fascinating track of thrown bananas and luscious trees surrounding straw homes, The Super Mario Bros. Movie has a lot to offer for Mario and Nintendo fans galore.

The anticipated video game adaptation hit theaters on April 5, 2023. Produced by Shigeru Miyamoto, the designer of Mario’s iconic character, and directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, Illumination’s newest whimsical animated film is a global phenomenon as its opening weekend box office hit $375.6M globally, surpassing Frozen 2 as the largest opening weekend for an animated film. 

The plot is rather simple and reminiscent of the mario game series, Mario (Chris Pratt) has to embark on an action-packed adventure to rescue his younger brother Luigi (Charlie Day) after being unexpectedly separated from him through the mysterious pipeline they accidentally warped into while exploring Brooklyn’s underground sewers in an effort to fix a broken pipe. However, a larger enemy awaits Mario as Bowser (Jack Black), who is the King of the Koopas, desires to marry Princess Peach (Ana Taylor-Joy) and views Mario as a threat to his plans to rule the world. Mario navigates this newfound world alongside Princess Peach, who trains him, and Toad (Keegan-Michael Key), who tags along to help save the Mushroom Kingdom from Bowser’s takeover. In addition, Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) helps Mario later in the film after Mario rescues him from drowning, which was a heroic feat especially after Donkey Kong had been impudent with him after being beat in their brawl for his father, Cranky Kong’s army. By the epilogue, Mario and the gang battle Bowser and his army in an epic clash.

Regardless of criticisms regarding the pace of the plot, voice acting, licensed soundtrack, or general flaws of the movie, most critics and fans can agree on one thing about its presentation: the animation is remarkable. The fluidity of action sequences and facial expressions portrayed by the characters were engaging and awe-inspiring.

Additionally, the contrast between Brooklyn’s less saturated, realistic colors portrayed in the beginning of the movie and the saturated, fluorescent colors portrayed in mushroom kingdom after Mario transports there shone brilliantly. Moreover, the settings of the movie such as Mario Kart’s iconic Rainbow Road and Bowser’s floating plateau, the creativity behind the architecture of Kong Kingdom, and attention to detail in the mushroom kingdom such as the incorporation of pipes for transportation also demonstrated the intricate thought put into the film. Each of the characters’ designs stay true to their videogame counterparts which gives it some 1-up points toward being a faithful adaptation.

Furthermore, the significant amount of easter eggs and references embedded throughout the movie were also fun little nods to Nintendo fan audiences. Although all were note-worthy, some surprising easter eggs was the feature of Kid Icarus that can be displayed in the scene where Mario is gaming, the iconic game-cube opening featured in Luigi’s ringtone, and Punchout Pizzeria, which can be seen in the frames on the walls of the restaurant shown in the beginning that references Punchout.

Other more known references was the incorporation of iconic Mario and Donkey Kong themes featured from games such as Super Marios Bros., Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario 64, ect. Another wonderful surprise was when the D.K rap played during Donkey Kong’s entrance, hyping up his character’s introduction. Of course, one cannot forget the newer songs performed in the movie such as “Peaches” by Jack Black, a song catchy enough to have one’s internal record player play it on repeat as one goes about one’s day. 

Although the film exhibits many effective qualities that appeal to Nintendo and Mario fans alike, there are many conspicuous flaws and inconsistencies throughout the movie. Firstly, one of the most noticeable aspects of the movie was that it was very fast-paced so it’s difficult to absorb each interaction and situation that occurs among the beloved characters.

Due to the quick development of the story, characters such as Luigi become victim to very little screen time and as a result receives no development when he (spoilers) bravely saves Mario from Bowser’s fire breath so Mario could receive the super star. Additionally, the voice-acting did not satisfy all audiences, as many still had a gripe with Chris Pratt as Mario, arguing that he can’t pull off the iconic voice everyone knows and loves or because Chris Pratt alone is a controversial actor. Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong was also not a favorite among many as people simply didn’t think his voice fit Donkey Kong. Contrarily, one of the more praised actors was Jack Black’s menacing portrayal as Bowser and how he astonishingly captured Bowser’s yearning desire for princess Peach. 

Despite mixed reviews on the movie, the Super Mario Bros. movie was a thrilling and entertaining ride for many audiences. The animation was stunning and there was a lot of heart poured into the making of it as demonstrated through its homage to the game series along with several references and easter eggs.