Super Mario Bros franchise expands with new film



The new Mario Movie surprises audience with its repetition of the original game.

Natalie Perrelli, Staff Reporter

A film rendition of a widely nostalgic video game franchise, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” hit theaters on April 5th, 2023. The movie was produced by Illumination, who has also produced popular animated movies such as “Despicable Me” and “Sing”. While quite a bit of controversy surrounded the film when it was initially announced, I personally think the creators didn’t do a half-bad job. 

For those unfamiliar with the “Super Mario Bros.” franchise, the video games typically follow Italian plumber Mario as he rescues Princess Peach from the villain, Bowser. The “Super Mario Bros. Movie” takes a different approach to this recurring plot line from the games. Instead, Mario’s brother, Luigi, is captured, and Mario and Peach must go on their own adventure to save Luigi from Bowser. A few familiar faces appear along the way, such as the popular characters Toad and Donkey Kong.

The new storyline expands the franchise well, adding a multitude of new elements. Instead of painting Princess Peach as the epitome of a damsel in distress, she is depicted as a bold and capable woman. Her diplomatic actions in the film further this point, as her character ventures out with Mario and Toad to make negotiations with the leader of the Jungle Kingdom, the home of the primate Kongs. The movie did not completely stray away from the source material. There were appearances of power-ups common to the video games, such as the “catsuit,” making its movie debut in a battle between Mario and Donkey Kong whilst the plumber is fighting for their alliance. 

The movie does a good job of including popular in-game features. However, this does not make it easy for those unfamiliar with the game franchise. It takes no time in explaining the different elements of the Super Mario universe, throwing watchers into the world of talking toadstools and sentient monkeys without much context. It could easily be confusing and therefore unlikeable for those not well-versed in the video games, something I think could have been an easy fix for creators. However, as someone who has a wide experience with the Mario games, understanding the film was not at all a challenge. For longtime fans, it is very entertaining, and a great dive into so many of our video game pasts. 

Those most concerned with how this film would turn out were the lifelong fans. As someone who has played Mario games quite a bit while growing up, I went into the movie with a biased perspective, hoping this film would do the franchise justice. While it lacked in places, I don’t think it was a total miss. Yes, the plot was confusing and key information within the movie was very poorly explained, but I did not dislike the watching experience. The movie is able to uphold what a Mario game really is, perhaps in its essence something confusing and all over the place. It contains so many fan-favorite aspects from throughout the games and is a total nostalgic trip into what we used to enjoy as kids, and still enjoy to this day. 

The casting of this movie is quite loaded, featuring big names such as Jack Black as Bowser, Chris Pratt as Mario, Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach, and Seth Rogan as Donkey Kong. Despite this, there was quite a bit of controversy and disappointment in some of these castings. Fans believed Chris Pratt was not fit for Mario, instead protesting for the original voice actor for the plumber brother, Charles Martinet. When the initial trailer for the movie was released, fans were in disdain over Pratt not attempting to replicate Mario’s signature Italian accent. While I understand the wishes for a game-accurate Mario, I don’t think the lack of a specific accent really makes or breaks the movie as a whole for me. His signature catchphrases, such as “it’s a-me!” and “let’s a-go!”, still make their appearance as dialogue. In spite of his shortcomings, Pratt does a fine job as Mario and does not make the movie any less enjoyable.  

When I entered the movie theatre in preparation to take in this film, I wasn’t surprised by who I saw sitting around me. As it is a PG-rated movie, most of the audience were young children. I also wasn’t surprised about the large number of middle-aged individuals, college students, and older high school students likely around my age who were also present. These are the people most heavily influenced by the franchise, as it began in 1985 and continued onward throughout the present day. While the rating indicates that it is for kids, the movie is really for all ages, as so many groups have the ability to have connections with it. Super Mario has been such a big part of growing up. A mediocre movie will leave no stain on the franchise as a whole.