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Duelling perspectives: Two reviews of The Super Mario Bros Movie

The Super Mario Bros Movie is a middling, but colorful crowdpleaser by Colin Gallagher

The highly anticipated collaboration film between video game company Nintendo and animation company Illumination, “The Super Mario Bros Movie,” released to theaters on April 5, 2023.

Based on the widely popular video game franchise of the same name, the movie was confirmed to be in production in 2018, with various announcements and buildup leading up to its release. The end result has seen a marginal difference of opinion between that of movie-going fans and film critics. 

The general consensus seems to be that, while the film has its obvious faults when it comes to having a tangible storyline, it doesn’t hurt the film-watching experience as bad as one would think. The film rather aims to provide a campy, action-packed adventure that pays tribute to one of video game’s most iconic franchises, albeit with little staying power.  

The titular protagonist Mario, voiced by Chris Pratt, works in an up-and-coming plumbing business in Brooklyn with his twin brother, Luigi, voiced by Charlie Day. When the brothers are put down by family and friends for chasing their dreams, the brothers attempt to fix a flooding issue in the underground sewers. The initial incident leads to Mario getting transported to a far off land known as the Mushroom Kingdom, separated from his brother. The two are eventually thrown into an ongoing conflict between the various kingdoms and against the villainous army led by King Bowser, voiced by Jack Black. 

The plot seems like a lot to take in, leading to one of the major issues of the film that both fans and critics seem to agree on. The pacing is blisteringly fast, as each scene seems to zoom by way too quickly, leaving less room for each of the kingdoms to be really fleshed out. Some scenes that work fine on their own, such as Mario interacting with the Mushroom Kingdom’s Princess Peach, voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy, went by in a blur, making the film-watching experience meld together at points.

There are points in the film, however, where the speedy pacing helps in the presentation of the movie. The action scenes later in the movie are highly engaging and fun to watch. Some scenes that showcase Mario’s iconic athletic abilities are in reference to the platforming gameplay of the mainline Mario games. Alongside plenty of other deep cut references, it’s clear that the team at Illumination are passionate about the Mario franchise. However, any audience members or film critic who isn’t familiar with the references might be left at a confused loss. 

In lead up to the film’s release, the voice cast of the film became a contention for the film’s quality, as high profile celebrities were chosen for the roles, as per the norm for many animated kids films. While definitely not the first choice for many, Chris Pratt as Mario does a pretty serviceable job as the lead plumber. But the clear standout of the film was Jack Black as Bowser,playing up the sinister but comedic lead villain while also putting his own spin on the role. 

“The Super Mario Bros Movie” is a serviceable animated adventure flick that is ultimately made for general audiences and fans rather than critics. At best, the film showcases enjoyable set pieces and engaging voice performances, while at worst feels like yet another lukewarm, odd-paced film that Illumination studios is typically known for. 

Classic game characters meet lively animation in The Super Mario Bros. Movie by Rose Macijauskas 

Classic game characters meet lively animation in “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”

Video game enthusiasts are raving over the new Nintendo-Illumination collaboration, the 2023 Super Mario Bros. Movie. With a big-name cast, the videogame themed film is packed with action, humor and  sentimental moments. Modern animation techniques collaborate with the classic Super Mario Brothers characters to create a one-of-a-kind experience for viewers. 

Following the quintessential protagonist versus antagonist plotline, Mario and Princess Peach work in tandem to stop King Bowser from overtaking the kingdom. It is flexible in its ability to appeal to both younger and older generations. The film includes clips of the classic Mario and Luigi game, complete with the signature “wa-hoo!” sound effect and pixelated animations. References to the highly popular Nintendo games Mario Kart are engaging for younger viewers. There are even scenes where each character customizes their own car and races on the classic Mario Kart map Rainbow Road. 

A subplot of unrequited love adds to the film’s humor. The viewer quickly realizes that Bowser is madly in love with Princess Peach. He sings corny love ballads on his piano in his dark, gloomy, lava-surrounded castle. It is a humorous image because of its irony and complete ridiculousness. Peach, unsurprisingly, refuses his proposal, enraging Bowser further. 

Although “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is intended for a younger audience, there are aspects of the film that adults can also enjoy. Luigi is captured towards the beginning of the film and placed among other prisoners. In the prison is a glowing star figure, with a child-like voice and bubbly demeanor. This star, however, is completely nihilistic, and continuously reminds the prisoners that they’re all probably going to die eventually and that nothing has any meaning. The juxtaposition between the bubbly voice and the sinister comments is quite amusing. 

One of the more sentimental and serious aspects of the film is the relationship Mario and Luigi have with their father. The film begins by showing Mario and Luigi’s commercial for their new plumbing business, something they’re incredibly proud of. Their father, however, scoffs at their efforts and is unsupportive. It keeps Mario from being fully happy and confident about his new business. It’s only at the end of the movie, where the two save Brooklyn from Bowser’s wrath, that his father tells them how proud he is. 

The animations within “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” are incredibly vivid and colorful. Although the classic characters such as Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach have the same look and outfits as they have had for decades, the high-quality animation style gives them a new dimension of life. It is also interesting to see how the color palette changes as Mario and Luigi travel from Brooklyn, New York to the world of video games. Hues of bright pink, yellow, green, and blue are heavily present in most scenes. 

Just over one and a half hours long, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a feel good film which combines classic video-game characters and modern animation styles. It is an experience not to be missed.


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