A Love Letter to the Games: The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Image Source: Universal Pictures

As a Nintendo fan who has played a number of Mario titles, I had a lot of fun watching The Super Mario Bros. Movie. It was an entertaining adventure with excitement and funny moments for kids and vintage references for long-time fans. In my opinion, the references, ranging from a Jumpman arcade machine to a remake of the Mario Bros. plumbing commercial, distinguished this movie as a love letter to one of the world’s biggest and most-beloved video game franchises instead of a corporate cash-grab. 

First of all, the visuals were impressive and incredibly detailed. I noticed different textures throughout this movie, like bouncy mushrooms, soft grass, and bubbling lava. If you look carefully, you can see the stitching on Mario and Luigi’s hats. The worlds that Mario and his friends traveled to were visually stunning and distinct from each other. 

Also, the music was phenomenal. The orchestral renditions of the franchise’s most iconic themes sounded unique yet close enough to the originals to be recognized by fans. In addition to video game themes, the soundtrack included well-known songs from the ‘80s, such as “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Take On Me.” This was an homage to Mario’s debut in the ‘80s in Jumpman, which I thought was a clever choice. 

I, like much of the rest of the world, was in disbelief when I first heard the voice actors announced for this movie. However, I was impressed by all the performances, most notably Jack Black and Charlie Day. The voice actors made the characters sound like their own but still nailed catchphrases from the original games. It sounded like the voice actors were genuinely having fun. Of course, Jack Black’s performance of “Peaches” was iconic and had me laughing out loud in the theater. If you haven’t yet, please watch the clip on YouTube. 

On the flip side, the plot and characters were the weakest points of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. It was obvious the plot was designed to include as many references to the games as possible rather than to form a cohesive adventure. Mario’s main motivation being that he wants to be bigger and stronger was lackluster to me. My favorite plot point was the brotherly bond between Mario and Luigi, which Chris Pratt and Charlie Day did a phenomenal job selling. 

Personally, I didn’t like the direction the writers took Princess Peach’s character. In the games, Princess Peach is known for being a gentle damsel-in-distress, but she also goes on her own adventures and demonstrates that she’s a good ruler. I think the writers were worried about depicting Princess Peach as weak in today’s social climate and erased some of her feminine qualities to make her seem stronger. However, a person can be gentle and strong at the same time. Princess Peach’s character in The Super Mario Bros. Movie would have been a great opportunity to demonstrate this to children. 

Overall, I would rate this movie a 7/10. It was a great homage to the video game franchise, but the writing fell flat at times.