The Super Mario Bros. Movie: A Safe but Fun Mustachioed Experience (Spoilers)

Design created by Jared Jimenez.

Design created by Jared Jimenez.

Story by Jared Jimenez, Staff Reporter

Ever since the first theatrical Mario movie, Super Mario Bros., was released in 1993 to scathing reviews from critics and audiences, another Mario movie seemed like a pipe dream until 2018 when a partnership between Illumination Entertainment and Nintendo was officially announced to begin work on a new fully animated Mario movie. Ever since then, The Super Mario Bros. Movie has easily been one of the most anticipated video game adaptations ever. The reveal of its cast and its 3 trailers only added to the amount of hype the Mario movie had behind it.

The year is 2023 and The Super Mario Bros. Movie has just been released and is absolutely crushing the box office. Does the Mario movie live up to the hype? Let’s find out.


The Story

For starters, the Mario movie’s plot, like most Mario games, is very bare bones. The story consists of Mario and Luigi being separated via a green warp pipe and Mario, who ends up in the Mushroom Kingdom, teams up with Princess Peach of the Mushroom Kingdom and Toad, a mushroom-man, to save Luigi from the clutches of Bowser, the end.

Super Mario creator, Shigeru Miyamoto photographed by Minister’s Secretariat Personnel Division.

The lack of story may be disappointing to some, but Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, has always created games by focusing on the experience & gameplay, rather than the story.

In an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto and IGN (Imagine Games Network) earlier this year Mr. Miyamoto stated: “For me, the starting story is how to make the gameplay fun, and that’s how I begin thinking about and creating a game.”


The Pacing

The pacing of this movie feels very fast, almost like whiplash. The movie constantly throws references, action, and colors at you throughout the whole movie without ever feeling the need to slow down or take a breather. This may sound like a good thing at first, you’ll never be bored at any point in the movie, but the fast pace leaves little room for emotionally-driven character moments and character development.

During the movie, there’s a scene where Mario and Donkey Kong are trapped together, this would’ve been the perfect for the perfect character moment but no, they escape in no time flat. It’s moments like these that could’ve gone somewhere narrative-wise but the movie ends up rushing to the next action scene at a supersonic speed. Added runtime could’ve helped the movie flesh out its characters and plot a lot more.


Animation and Visual References

The animation and art style in this movie is astounding. The animation is expressive and bouncy. About shot references something from the Mario universe or a different Nintendo property. For instance, at the start, Mario and Luigi are hanging out at “Punch-Out Pizzeria,” a pizza joint based on Punch-Out, a boxing arcade game released by Nintendo in 1983.

Super Nintendo World guests being greeted by the Mario brothers at Osaka, Japan, photographed by Dick Thomas Johnson from flickr.

A little over halfway into the movie, Mario and his friends build karts like the kart select screen in Mario Kart 8. They then race across Rainbow Road, a classic race track in the Mario Kart series. This scene specifically really highlights how visually spectacular the Mario movie truly is. The mix of eye-popping colors and bouncy animation makes for an incredibly fun action sequence that has you on the edge of your seat for the duration of the scene.

The same can also be said for the rest of the action moments in the movie. While the time spent between those moments could’ve been much more well-paced, the amount of fun you get from these sequences almost makes up for the lack of good pacing and character moments and makes for an epic popcorn muncher of a movie.


Music & Audible References

The soundtrack of The Super Mario Bros. Movie is nothing short of impeccable. There’s almost always a music cue from one of the Mario games. The soundtrack also gives a very grand and orchestic feel. However, there are a few licensed songs thrown in with the already outstanding soundtrack which may be a downer to some people, but is an absolute joy to anyone who is a fan of 80’s songs. There are songs such as Take on meDon’t Sleep Till Brooklyn, and Holding out for a hero, and while not being an 80’s song, Mr. Blue Sky is also played.


Voice Performances

The voice cast has easily been the most anticipated part of the movie. Some may say the most concerning. Were the voices good? Well, Chris Pratt’s Mario was fine. Weirdly enough, Chris seemed to transition in and out of different accents and voice pitches. Sometimes Mario has a Brooklyn accent, sometimes he sounded like Charles’ Mario from the games, and other times he was just Mr. Pratt. Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach brought a refreshing side of the character, making her more brave and independent rather than a damsel in distress. Keegan-Michael Key gave Toad a fresh, less ear-grating voice. Seth Rogan as DK was also fine, it was basically just Mr. Rogan and his signature laugh.

The voices for Foreman Spike, Cranky Kong, and Kamek were all just fine with nothing much more to say. The two standouts of the voice casting were undoubtedly Charlie Day as Luigi and Jack Black as Bowser. Both characters had the best lines and the best jokes in the movie. Sadly, Luigi didn’t have much screen time in the movie however. He was really only present in the start and end with some scattered scenes in the middle. 

Chris Pratt at a San Diego Comic con panel photographed by Gage Skidmore.

Current Mario voice actor Charles Martinet made a voice cameo as two characters. Giuseppe, a character seen at the Punch-Out Pizzeria who has a design eerily similar to Jumpman, as well Mario and Luigi’s father, which was a nice touch. Some people didn’t even notice that Martinet played the Mario brothers’ father because of how different he sounded. Which can also prove that casting an actual voice actor for Mario would’ve been a better choice than an actor who isn’t really used to voice acting other than using his regular voice.


World Building

There are plenty of nods to the Mario games in the Mario movie like powerups, question mark blocks, and Donkey Kong country. But the movie fails to explain any of them. Like, the movie expects the audience to understand why eating a red mushroom makes you big, or why there’s an entire race of monkeys that act like humans. It’s like this movie was made only for fans and kids and no one else. As said previously, a longer runtime could’ve helped a ton with this. But with that being said, the Mario world is represented as perfectly as any Mario fan could’ve wanted.



Compared to other recent animated movies like Puss In Boots: The Last Wish and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, The Super Mario Bros. Movie pales in comparison. But many Mario fans can agree that the Mario movie did not need to be anywhere near as good as those movies. This movie doesn’t really feel like it tried to be a great movie. I believe that the Mario movie simply tried to be a fun theatrical celebration of the Super Mario franchise. As of right now, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is currently the biggest video game adaptation out there, earning $1 Billion globally, making it the first adaptation of a video game ever to reach such a milestone.  This reviewer rates The Super Mario Bros. Movie an 8/10. A bit generic in some aspects but a fun thrill ride full of fan service to the  original source material.