By Mikayla Silcox
Elm Staff Writer
Nintendo’s Mario franchise is continually evolving, plunging new generations into a fantasy filled with stars, mushrooms, and pipes.
Because Mario continues to entertain children and adults alike, the expectations for 2023’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” were understandably high.
While the movie appeals to the child-like wonder that Nintendo often displays in its games, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” would not hold up as a standalone film without its nostalgia factor.
“Mostly, people don’t want something like this to get screwed up,” Chris Pratt said to Gizmodo in the wake of fans online criticizing him for taking on the role of Mario.
The film begins with Mario (Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) in Brooklyn, where the plumbers stumble on magical pipes that suck the iconic protagonists into another world. Mario lands in the Mushroom Kingdom, where he is determined to save his brother Luigi, who is stuck in the Dark Lands under the rule of Bowser (Jack Black).
However, Mario’s plan goes off course when he meets Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy). Bowser wants to marry Princess Peach, but if she rejects his proposal, he plans to attack her kingdom with the Super Star, a powerful star that promises its user invincibility. Enthralled by Princess Peach’s beauty and kindness, Mario vows to stay and help save the Mushroom Kingdom.
The classic villain Bowser finally finds the Super Star, enabling his plans. Bowser terrorizes kingdoms to the tune of love songs by Tenacious D, Black’s own rock band. Black’s over-the-top silliness paired with his musical skills made his casting one of the most effective choices of the film, adding an element of fun to the already playful source material. Black’s songs as Boswer gained popularity on social media, with Black’s “Peaches” going viral on TikTok.
The direction of the film encapsulates the different eras of the Mario franchise, juxtaposing the eye-popping animation with flat, horizontal backgrounds and cleverly shot side-scrolling. Additionally, the film sprinkles in other exciting elements from the franchise, like Rainbow Road.
While the references to the classic game may satisfy some fans, the film’s plot is ultimately lacking.
In an effort to not misrepresent such an important movie to gamers, directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic honored the source material, but the plot dragged and often made little sense.
For such a well-directed accumulation of everything Mario, the lack of storytelling does a disservice to the film. The characters are just references, and the plot adds nothing to what you could gain out of a round of “Super Mario Brothers.”
With the high critical eye following the release of this movie, it is possible that Horvath and Jelenic were worried about creating a script that strayed too far from Mario’s origins. However, many fans want to see a plot-driven movie more than a one-time hit for the nostalgia factor.
“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” was an effective tribute to the franchise, but will not stand the test of time past the initial excitement of its release.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo caption: Comedian Jack Black is a stand out in the new film, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” in which he voices the villainous Bowser.