Whether you have played every Mario game in the Nintendo franchise or have never touched one, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a must-see. With well-known actors like Jack Black and Chris Pratt being combined with something so dear to my childhood, I had extremely high expectations for this movie, and I was not disappointed.
The movie begins with a commercial from the Super Mario Bros’ plumbing business, for which we find out the brothers dropped everything they had in order to pursue their dream. At first, I thought it was strange that Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., but as the movie progressed it made sense to introduce them into the Mushroom Kingdom and Dark Lands associated with the Super Mario universe throughout the games.
One of the technical design choices I loved about the movie were the moments when the movie would become two-dimensional in order to allude to the style of the Super Mario Bros games. I thought those moments, as well as the inclusion of a wide variety of classic Nintendo characters, made the movie a great balance between the new story that they were telling, while still satisfying the nostalgia that myself and so many others were looking for. As for some of the popular characters that were not seen—Princess Daisy, Rosalina, Wario and Waluigi especially come to mind—I think the clip at the very end of the credits gave me some hope that we will be seeing them in a potential sequel.
My absolute favorite part of the movie was the soundtrack. Other than Bowser’s (Jack Black’s) stunning, and frankly shocking—I had no idea that was coming—performance of the original song “Peaches,” the movie included several soundtracks from a variety of Mario games. While the DK Rap was a very clear nod to the song from Donkey Kong 64, a lot of what I loved was the more subtle aspect that people may not have picked up on if they are not as familiar with the Nintendo games as I am. It was so cool to hear the producers use and slightly change some of the environmental music that made the games, and now the movie, so immersive and incredible.
I also thought there was a good mix of action and comedy. The scene in which Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy,) Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) and the Kong army were being chased by Bowser’s Koopa army on Rainbow Road was not only an incredible nod to the Mario Kart games, but also packed a thrill. This, as well as several high-intensity fights were well distributed between other scenes in which Mario and Luigi were worried about each other, Bowser was scheming to marry Princess Peach and Mario and Peach falling in love. I will say, I felt Mario and Peach’s romance felt a little bit forced. Although they have always been a canonical couple, and therefore it follows logically that they would be love interests in the movie, I felt that that background was really the only thing that gave a solid foundation to their relationship.
I did like seeing Peach as a strong character throughout the movie. It was a refreshing change from the games, where she is almost always portrayed as a damsel in distress in need of a man saving her. In this movie, she was the one teaching and helping Mario and she defended her kingdom from Bowser’s rule. Although I did not particularly enjoy the romance between her and Mario, it was well done considering it was there. Peach remained a strong, female lead despite her romance with Mario.
Overall, I was thrilled to see this movie, and equally thrilled that it was as good as it was. With a fantastic mix of old and new, I would absolutely recommend anyone, regardless of whether or not they’ve played any Nintendo games, to go see “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” in theaters.