Movie Review: The Super Mario Bros. Movie



Over the past several decades, countless video games have been adapted into feature films. While none of these movies have been very successful among critics, they’ve entertained and delighted audiences across the globe. For the most part, video game adaptations have produced very poor results, with abysmal flops such as Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and Alone in the Dark being considered two of the worst movies of all time. On the other end of the scale is The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which in my opinion is not only one of the best video game adaptations, but one of the best children’s movies of the past several years.

The story is simple and familiar. Mario and Luigi live in Brooklyn and run an un-successful plumbing business. When they find a mysterious pipe below the streets of New York, they are thrown head-first into a new world full of colorful characters and various lands to explore. But when Luigi is captured by Bowser, who also plans to destroy the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario must team up with Princess Peach to thwart his evil plans and save his brother.

On the surface it sounds like every other kids movie, and in some ways it is. The storyline and plot points are played very safe, with no unexpected twists and turns along the way. In a movie like this however, I would argue that a complicated, unfamiliar story would be unnecessary. It does its job of entertaining both kids and adults with its witty humor, vibrant locations, and exciting action sequences.

One of the many things that the film does very well is adapting the characters and surroundings to feel like the games without being exactly identical. The character designs (specifically for Luigi and Mario) have been altered slightly from their videogame counterparts, and in my opinion it works very well. They don’t look the same, but they’re still recognizable as the iconic plumbers we know and love. In other cases like Bowser and Toad, they’re looks are basically identical to the games, which is also presented very well.

What I loved most about the movie (and in my opinion what it did best) was the plethora of easter eggs for fans of the Mario games. The sheer volume of references was absolutely wonderful to see, and also fit nicely into the movie. Some of them were pretty easy to spot, such as Mario playing on a Nintendo Entertainment System in his bedroom. Others however were harder to spot and might not have been understood by the kids in the audience. One example of these would be Luigi’s ringtone being the iconic Nintendo GameCube sound that plays when starting up the console. The film even goes as far as to reference other movies. In the first scene when the penguins attack Bowser, “Battle Without Honor or Humanity ” from the 2003 film Kill Bill vol. 1 can be heard. Finally, there are a few cameos in the movie, such as Mario’s father being voiced by Charles Martinet, who has voiced both Mario and Luigi since 1991. 

Speaking of voice acting, every character was portrayed very well by the voices behind them. Despite the odd casting choice, Chris Pratt did a surprisingly good job as Mario. The same can be said for Keegan Michael Key as Toad and Seth Rogan as Donkey Kong. The real standout however is Bowser played by Jack Black, whose vocal talent is on full display in the movie.

So is The Super Mario Bros. Movie worth seeing? Despite what critics are claiming, this film is a fun ride for the entire family, and definitely worth seeing in a theater. Every generation would enjoy watching the movie, from those who played the games as a kid, to those who are just getting started. I personally grew up on Mario games, and it’s very obvious to see the film is a wonderful homage to all the classic titles, and the newer ones. Even if you’ve never played a single Mario game, you will have a good time watching this movie.