Reel Thoughts: ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ shoots for the stars, avoids a red shell


Illustration by Shveta Shah

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a fast-paced dash across Rainbow Road.

Danny O’Grady, Design Editor

Few fictional characters are as recognizable as Mario, the face of gaming giant Nintendo. The animators at Illumination bore a heavy weight as they attempted to bring everyone’s favorite plumber to the big screen for the first time since 1993. Their finished product, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” is by no means perfect, but it’s a fun ride for audiences of all ages.

While it was originally criticized for its voice cast lacking Italian American representation, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” boasts strong voice acting performances across the board. However, Chris Pratt’s depiction of Mario does not come off as a stereotype and he does an admirable job embodying the character. Illumination made a risky decision by choosing A-list actors like Jack Black and Anya Taylor-Joy over traditional voice actors. However, this choice pays off. Each member of the cast expertly embodies their character. 

No deep knowledge of the Mario universe is necessary to enjoy the film, allowing everyone to watch the escapades across the Mushroom Kingdom. Nevertheless, the characters feel like genuine interpretations of their video game counterparts, but at times, the movie illuminates new sides of the iconic characters. For instance, seeing Bowser practice his routine to propose to Princess Peach is an excellent comedic moment, showing a more lighthearted side of the typically grim character. 

The movie still retains an atmosphere reminiscent of its game counterparts. For instance, the colorful visuals and cartoony backdrops echo “Super Mario Odyssey” and other Mario games. 

Along with well-known songs from the game soundtracks, Illumination sprinkled in some famous pop hits for comedic effect. “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC in particular perfectly complements the main kart sequence of the movie, with the rock-heavy track juxtaposed with the goofy antics on screen.

The comedy is clearly the main draw of the movie. Thankfully, it mostly delivers on that front — though most jokes are directed toward younger audiences.

However, the emphasis on comedy keeps the movie from developing a complex and layered story. This doesn’t prevent enjoyment, since the plot isn’t the main appeal. Still, other animated movies marketed for children such as “Up” have managed to present a deeper meaning. While “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” addresses themes such as brotherhood and living up to expectations, it does so on a forgettable surface level.

The poor pacing certainly hindered plot development, with runtime below an hour and a half. The movie doesn’t drag on, but neither does it have time to flesh out its characters. 

However, a post-credits scene indicates a sequel may soon enter development — beloved characters like Yoshi or King Boo who weren’t in this movie may make appearances down the line.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” provides what one would expect from a Mario movie, but not much more. 

The mass appeal of this movie empowered it to become the biggest animated movie launch ever, grossing $678 million in 11 days. Nintendo is now set up for success as it begins new cinematic projects based on one of its most beloved franchises.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @DannyMOGrady04 

Related Stories: 

Reel Thoughts: ‘The Last of Us’ is a masterpiece that honors its source material, elevates video game industry to new heights

Reel Thoughts: ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ season 2 stumbles at first, but recovers for a memorable finish

Reel Thoughts: Addictions, affairs, and rivalries rock ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’