The Super Mario Bros Movie Review

Once upon a time, Nintendo tried to bring their beloved mascots, the Mario Bros, onto the big screen. The resulting movie was so traumatizing, Nintendo swore off making any films about their IP. Fast-forward thirty years later, and Nintendo’s cautiously dipping its toes back into films, partnering with Illumination Studios to make The Super Mario Bros Movie Despite controversy over casting, with many criticizing having Chris Pratt playing Mario, the movie went ahead as planned. Critics haven’t exactly been kind to it on Rotten Tomatoes, though, so does the film hold up to fan expectations?

The answer is yes; the critics are wrong, and this could be the start of a Nintendo Cinematic Universe. The Super Mario Bros Movie rules!

The Usual Mario Bros Story, In Movie Form

The Super Mario Bros Movie-Kitty Got Claws
Source-Nintendo, Illumination, YouTube

Serving as an origin story for the titular brothers, Mario and Luigi are two plumbers struggling to get their business off the ground. That’s when they stumble into the sewers of Brooklyn and find a magic green pipe that isekais them to another world. From there, Luigi gets captured by the evil Bowser, and Mario has to save him. 

In other words, it’s the basic plot behind most Mario games, with Luigi in place of Princess Peach. There’s little that needs to be understood or explained. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the Mario Bros franchise can understand it. Instead of focusing on building the characters, the movie puts its energy into making the world as faithful to the games as possible. In this regard, the film soars as high as Mario in his Tanuki suit.

Everywhere you look in the film, you’ll find easter eggs and references to the beloved franchise’s history. Nothing is off the table in this film, from visual callbacks to locations in the games to the creatures to even using famous lines. It even extends to the music, most of which is either taken directly from the games or faithfully remixed for the film. 

So why do are the critics dunking on it so much, and why are they wrong?

Why the Critics Are Wrong

Many of the critics chief complaints so far about The Super Mario Bros Movie boil down to the same issues. They say it has no deep plot, the story’s bland and straightforward, and character development seems non-existent. In other words, they don’t see it as any different from one of the many Mario games.

That’s why they don’t understand this film, why they’re wrong, and why the fans are right.

Ask yourself this question: when has a Mario game ever focused on telling a deep and compelling story? Never. The Mario games and their many spin-offs have never concentrated on gripping plots or complex characters. They only care about one thing and one thing alone: is the game going to be fun? It’s that mindset that’s allowed Mario to stay on top for four decades, and they didn’t need to change that for his first official outing on the big screen in thirty years. 

While the critic in me does recognize the lack of plot and deeper character moments do exist, the fan in me doesn’t care. It came into this movie to have fun, and have fun it did. It’s why, in this debate, the fans win hands-down. The film knows it doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel, so it doesn’t bother trying, instead focusing its time and effort on being fun for everyone. It’s like an Aesop about how it’s best to be genuine and be yourself, and you’ll find people who like you for that.

Flat or Not, Most of the Characters Were Still Fun

The Super Mario Bros Movie-It's On Like Donkey Kong
Source-Nintendo, Illumination, YouTube

Furthermore, while they may not have gotten that much depth to them, the cast of the film is still a lot of fun to watch. Princess Peach is no longer the wholly damsel in distress but a badass girl that would make Princess Bubblegum or Star Butterfly proud. Bowser chews the scenery by being as hammy as possible, and you can tell Jack Black was giving it his all doing so. Seth Rogen killed it as Donkey Kong, living it up in the spotlight and knowing how to work the crowd. Toad (who ended up being my favorite) is fearless and friendly. He’s like the best friend everyone needs in their lives, and the wingman you want when you’re trying to meet people.

Even Christ Pratt manages to do good as Mario. I was apprehensive about having him voice Mario in this film, and I’ve been a fan of him for about a decade. However, he still gives it his all, and it shows. So, let’s give him a chance. 

The Birth of the NCU?

So, where do we go from here? Given how the film looks set to be a box-office success, it’s clear we’re getting a sequel in the future. The film even leaves the door open for multiple potential films. We could get a spin-off of Luigi’s Mansion, which would help Luigi get his own time to shine. Donkey Kong would make for a strong contender, and the audience is there for that. It’s clear Illumination is just getting started with things, and if the fans want it, we’ll likely get it.

So, is this film perfect? No, but what film is perfect? The pacing can be a bit much at times, but it mores than makes up for it by being a genuine love-letter to Nintendo’s mascot and the most famous plumbers in the world. Plus, between this and the Sonic movies, the video game film curse might finally be broken.

I Give “The Super Mario Bros Movie” a 4/5