And we’re not complaining
Gamer or not, it’s impossible not to know The Super Mario Bros. Many, if not all of us, grew up with the these mustachioed brothers who raced through worlds (mostly pipes) to fight the nefarious Bowser and his army, and save Princess Peach and The Mushroom Kingdom. The game and its characters, from Mario and Luigi to Toad and Princess Peach and Bowser, have an effortless charm that’s allowed the franchise to stand the test of time. I mean who else is playing Super Mario or its many different spin offs nearly 40 years later? Our household is and we just started playing Super Mario Odyssey for the hundredth time. Other than the levels and obstacles that need to be overcome, the franchise keeps it easy, straightforward and fun with splashy visuals and controls that continue to evolve over time.
RELATED: Luigi’s Mansion 3 Review
So what of the movie? Illumination and Universal’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie is not made for film critics to take apart. Fan service is at its core as the movie stays true to the source material while trying to offer something new (more on that later). The early action sequence, as well as the general plot, are nods to classic Mario. Meanwhile, the worlds are magical and the outfit transformations after every mushroom power-up are phenomenal (see: Fire Peach and Cat Mario) because the results are exactly what audiences expect them to be but better. You really have to appreciate the movie’s commitment to dot its i’s and cross its t’s. As someone who’s seen a handful of failed game-to-screen adaptations, there’s nothing as disappointing or jarring as your favorite character doing something, well, out of character. Likewise, I know Chris Pratt lending his voice to Mario was met with much criticism, but Pratt somehow nailed trademark catchphrases like “it’s a-me” and “let’s a-go.”
Now onto The Super Mario Bros. Movie offering something new. Unlike in the game, the movie tries to add some more color to its characters—Mario and Luigi are small business owners from Brooklyn, the former ironically hates mushrooms, and Peach is an orphan turned butt-kicking Princess. While much of what happens are based on the original game, like Bowser being madly in love with Peach, many critics griped about the appearance of Donkey Kong, who helped take on Bowser’s army in go-karts. Why go-karts they asked? Well, why not? It’s fantasy; it doesn’t need logical explanation. The movie, after all, is a celebration of the franchise, its evolution and characters over the last four decades. So Donkey Kong and his entire village can travel via go-kart or Dorrie (if across the sea!) if they want to.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie, from the nostalgic elements to the stunning visuals, is a nod to the franchise’s fantastical past and bright future. If the movie is a sign of more breathtaking worlds to explore and immersive experiences on-screen and IRL, you can count me and the children of my grandchildren to keep watching (and playing).
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is now showing in theaters.
Images via Universal Pictures
Art Alexandra Lara