The Super Mario Bros. Movie: Better than expected


On April 5, The Super Mario Bros. Movie was released in theaters, becoming the highest-grossing animated film in its opening weekend. Despite some concerns that the movie would suffer from the low-quality video game-based films’ fate, fans were pleasantly surprised with how entertaining Super Mario turned out to be. 

The movie is certainly not the greatest film of all time, but it is fun, engaging and rewarding for long-time Mario fans. Audience reviews are quite complimentary, with a 96% audience score, despite a critic score of 59% on Rotten Tomatoes.

One of the biggest stand-outs in the movie is actor Jack Black’s role as Bowser. From his delightful line delivery to the character’s hilarious love song for Princess Peach, Black perfectly encapsulates one of video games’ most famous villains. A more comical writing of the character also added to the performance, even commenting on his seemingly arbitrary desire to marry the princess. 

The film’s execution of intentional, specific humor also adds to its overall quality. The movie’s jokes are all based on plot events, a pleasant change from the large amount of children’s content full of nonsensical fart jokes and gross-out humor. While the film does somewhat overuse slow-motion to make something funnier, this does not substantially decrease the audience’s level of enjoyment.

It is very obvious that the team behind the Mario movie was aware of what audiences would want. While not solely relying on nostalgia, the film is full to the brim with references to nearly every part of the character’s history. Certain changes only enhance the film’s enjoyability, most notably the need for Luigi to be rescued from Bowser instead of Princess Peach, who here teams up with Mario to save his brother. In most Mario games, the goal is for the player, as Mario, to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. In the movie, however, it is Luigi that Mario must rescue, removing the problematic portrayal of Peach as a one-note damsel in distress. That being said, the movie manages to keep the joke of “your princess is in another castle” while portraying a more modern, feminist Peach. This balance of script quality, modernization and franchise references makes the film enjoyable for those who grew up with the video games as well as children who are just now discovering these iconic characters.

Overall, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a delightful continuation of both the Mario Bros. franchise and the recent pattern of video game movie success at the box office. The movie is certainly still a kids’ movie, but it can be entertaining for an audience of all ages.