“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a Delight


“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is not just for kids, the animation and humor will charm audiences of all ages. (Courtesy of Twitter)

As I’m sure is the case with many of you, the Mario games were integral to my childhood. My sister and I loved them while we were growing up. I have fond memories of playing “Mario Party 7” on the GameCube, struggling through levels of “New Super Mario Bros. U” on our Wii U and, my personal favorite, racing away on “Mario Kart Wii.” So unsurprisingly, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Thankfully, it did not disappoint.

The film’s plot is reminiscent of the games. Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) have recently started a plumbing business in Brooklyn, despite their family’s objections. During the first day on the job, they fall through a classic green warp pipe, with Mario ending up in the Mushroom Kingdom and Luigi falling into the hands of Bowser (Jack Black). As Bowser aims to take over the kingdom and marry Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), Mario forms an alliance with the princess and Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) to save Luigi and stop Bowser once and for all. Plenty of other iconic characters appear in the film, including Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) and Bowser’s army of Koopas.

The 90-minute story is fast-paced and conventional, and nothing too surprising happens that you wouldn’t expect in a Mario game or basic movie plot. There were still diversions from the games that I enjoyed, though, such as some added background on the characters. For example, Peach does not play her typical role as the damsel in distress, and you learn about her background of how she became princess of the Mushroom Kingdom. I liked learning more about her and why the Toads are so loyal to her. I also enjoyed seeing more of Mario and Luigi’s time in Brooklyn, and the brotherhood they share, whether together or apart, is heartwarming. In some ways, I would have liked to see more background on these characters, but given the film’s fast pace, I understand why they didn’t.

The voice acting was really good, and there wasn’t a single performance that I was upset with. After the previous worries about casting Pratt in the iconic role, I can confidently say that his performance was not nearly as bad as it sounded in the trailers. He pulled off the iconic “wahoo” and “let’s-a-go,” so I’m satisfied. I also had a lot of fun with Rogen as Donkey Kong. The charisma and humor he brought to the role had me laughing throughout his scenes.

However, the scene-stealer was definitely Black’s performance as Bowser. When I was younger, I used to have the biggest fear of Bowser — to the point that he would give me nightmares — and Black nailed the classic voice that I dreaded hearing while playing the games. He was also hilarious, making me laugh in every scene he was in. His piano solo, “Peaches,” which debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100, will definitely appear on my 2023 Spotify Wrapped.

Speaking of music, Brian Tyler’s score was one of my favorite aspects of the film. He incorporated some of the classic game themes originally written by composer Koji Kondo. If you’ve played any Mario game, you’ll definitely recognize the background music and will feel fond (or frustrating) memories of racing in “Mario Kart” and struggling to beat a level.

The movie is also visually impressive. The Rainbow Road kart racing sequence was probably my favorite: a vibrant, colorful racetrack with the classic karts and power-ups. There are also some camera shots that make you feel like you’re playing “Super Mario Bros.” as Mario jumps from block to block and avoids obstacles, which was a smart and creative choice.

I’ll admit that my love towards the movie was probably due to nostalgia. The target audience is definitely children, and if you know nothing about the games, you probably won’t enjoy it that much. That being said, I was fully prepared to walk out of the movie theater hating the film, even if there was plenty of fan service, but I ended up having a lot of fun. From the acting and humor to the music and animation, there’s plenty to enjoy, and my childlike delight while watching greatly outweighs any minor gripes I may have. Is it my favorite animated movie of all time? Of course not, but a rewatch is in order once it releases on streaming.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a must-watch for all Mario fans, young or old. Thanks to its massive box office success, I can’t wait to buy tickets for the inevitable sequels and spinoffs in the future.