WAHOO! ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ pleasantly surprises

Illumination Studios released the first animated Super Mario Brothers movie on April 5, 2023. 

The characters Mario and Luigi hopefully ring a bell because this film uses details from the incredibly popular game franchise to create “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” for all the fans out there. Two brothers, Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day), start off as everyday plumbers until they stumble upon a whole other world. With Luigi in danger, Mario helps Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) prepare to defeat Bowser (Jack Black) to save his brother and Mushroom Kingdom. However, Bowser’s true intentions are exposed, which won’t be surprising to fans of the original game. The child-friendly movie embraces the original plots and qualities of the game and brings them into a new type of media. With this comes challenges and doubt, but the ending product brings these characters and kingdoms alive. 

Creating a movie from an adored franchise that has existed since 1985 means you will be making this movie with a lot of backseat writers. So many fans have their own visions and expectations, which makes every decision carry an astronomical amount of weight. One of those decisions could be the voice actor for the amazing Mario. Pratt has a reputation and a voice that definitely doesn’t bring Mario to mind. Many people frowned at the idea of him playing such a loveable character, but sitting in front of the big screen can change people’s minds. It changed mine, and brought my attention to the other voice actors like Black, Taylor-Joy, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong and Keegan-Michael Key as Toad. I ended up admiring all of the actors chosen for each role and finding them to be a good match.

The star of the show, and I’m not talking about the Super Star Bowser planned to rule the world with, is the film’s criminally stunning soundtrack. The original songs for the game were fun and catchy, but the composer Brian Taylor transformed them into the dramatic, show stopping, scene-setters they had the potential to be. If anyone is to admire this movie for anything, it’ll be the soundtrack. Scenes like the introduction of Mushroom Kingdom and the final battle scene have musical moments that caught me off guard in the best way. It would be a crime to forget to mention Bowser’s “Peach”, sung by Jack Black. 

Illumination Studios made this movie with incredible levels of animation, but that is never where they lacked. Sadly, their movies tend to carry an older sense of humor. A few of the jokes, like the dog scene near the beginning and the multiple comments about dancing pecs, felt like I was scrolling Facebook or perhaps twiddling my thumbs on Tumblr. Though I can respect the humor from the blue star character, Lumalee, locked in Bowser’s dungeon. Toad had a few hits and misses but overall was a very enjoyable character as well. 

The directors, Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, followed closely to the original storyline of the game franchise and brought to life the different personalities throughout it. It was a simple hero storyline that makes you feel like you are capable of anything, or just want to play the original Super Mario Bros games again. 

I recommend anyone with an open mind to go watch “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” for what it is –a kid’s movie– and let yourself enjoy it.