New Mario movie is fun, but has a loss of plot originality


Photo Courtesy of @supermariomovie on Twitter

Vibrant colors and nostalgic video game references are among the more notable elements of this film.

By Tafa Nukator, Advertising & Subscriptions Manager

“It’s-a-me, Mario!” If his signature red hat is not enough to identify him, his catch phrase certainly is. This iconic character has long dominated the video game industry, generating nearly 300 games since his inception in 1981. From Mario Kart to Super Mario Bros, nearly everyone can recall fond memories involving the mustached Italian plumber. Although Illumination’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a fun, nostalgic tribute to the games that many grew up with, it unfortunately is more of a vapid cash grab than an award worthy film.

Released in theaters on April 5, 2023, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” follows beloved video game characters Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) as they are zapped from their home in Brooklyn, New York to a fantasy world through a magic pipe. Mario is transported to the Mushroom Kingdom, while Luigi is captured by the notorious Bowser (Jack Black). With the help of Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), Mario must save Luigi and foil Bowser’s
plans to take over the kingdom.

Unlike the flop that was the 1993 “Super Mario Bros” film, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has been a box office smash. The movie has become the biggest animated global opening of all time, beating out “Frozen II” for the title. It is also on track to cross the billion dollar box office threshold, making it one of only nine animated films to do so.

Aesthetically, the film borders on perfection. The animation is fluid, the color palette is vibrant and nearly every frame is stimulating. Even in the distant background, the amount of care and attention to detail that went into the animation is made apparent. Viewers are immersed in this fun and dreamy fantasy world, making the film much more enjoyable and eye-catching.

Apart from Chris Pratt’s underwhelming performance as Mario, the voice acting was generally good. Jack Black and Anya Taylor-Joy embody their respective roles of Bowser and Princess Peach very well. Black is able to express Bowser’s desperation and greed for power without taking himself too seriously, and Taylor-Joy brings out a new side of Princess Peach, a refreshing change from the damsel-in-distress trope present in the video games.

While there are numerous elements that this film can be praised for, , the storyline is unfortunately not one of them. The plot feels underdeveloped and is not much more sophisticated than the brief story scenes in the video games. There is no way to analyze the plot without it immediately falling apart. For example, the magic pipe by which they were transported to an alternate dimension had no real explanation; it simply appeared. Much of the film involves the characters performing seemingly random acts, with no real context to justify them.

The endless video game references are a large part of the appeal for many viewers. However, they can also be blamed for the movie’s shortcomings. The flow of the storyline is often disrupted for the sake of cramming in yet another game reference. The bizarre occurrences and actions in the film can often be attributed to the storyline of one game or another. At some point, the slapstick humor built up by game references becomes a little tiring. The film is so jam-packed with allusions to the video games that it simply will not be enjoyable for those who are not well versed in how to play.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” relies too heavily on the games to foster its success, but it certainly is not the only film guilty of this. Nostalgia is a powerful force, and it seems that filmmakers in recent years have committed to exploiting it as much as possible. From remakes to adaptations, relying on nostalgia and references to old media to prop up mediocre movies has become the trend. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is simply joining “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “The Last of Us” as one of the many video games being thrust onto the big screen with little to no plot expansion. This phenomenon certainly is not exclusive to games as it is becoming increasingly difficult to find an animated Disney movie without a live-action remake.

Overall, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is fun and reminiscent of viewers’ childhoods. The movie is perfectly fine, especially for a younger audience. As long as viewers are willing to overlook a shallow plot, there are no major issues. However, this film reflects a larger tragedy: Hollywood has killed originality.