Critics Say: ‘Mamma Mia!’ But Mario Fans Say: ‘Let’s-A-Go!’

A review on the Super Mario Brothers Movie, courtesy of the Minion People

Mario screaming on the end of a Bullet Bill (Illumination screenshot)

Mario screaming on the end of a Bullet Bill (Illumination screenshot)

The Super Mario Brothers Movie is pretty alright. I mean it’s certainly better than the Mario movie they decided to make in 1993, that was unbelievable. 

I was kind of wary when I heard that Illumination Entertainment was going to be taking responsibility for the biggest thing from the Mario franchise in a long time. Considering how they handled movies like “Despicable Me” after the first movie and “Sing”, I didn’t have my hopes up. 

Since my standards were low, but I got an average movie, I was satisfied. The creator of Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto, was also wary when it came to his livelihood being in the hands of another company to be interpreted.

It was due to the last time Mario was made into a movie. The film was abominable as it featured so many creative liberties that just didn’t work. Bowser was President Koopa and has a corporate slick haircut, Princess Peach wasn’t even in the film, and I think worst of all is that Luigi didn’t have a damn mustache!

Back to the modern Mario movie, I have to say it has its fair share of upsides. The animation is beautiful. It captures the cartoony, colorful world of Mario (played by Chris Pratt of Guardians of the Galaxy) and makes it cinematic. The initial dive into the Mushroom Kingdom by Mario, having him in absolute awe at the foreign ecosystem of gigantic vibrant mushrooms. 

Some other things about this movie that I like are Mario’s brother, Luigi (voiced by Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and the main antagonist of the movie, King Bowser, (portrayed by Jack Black of Shark Tale).

Mario is the straight-man protagonist who stumbles upon a new world brought to him unexpectedly alongside his more anxious brother, Luigi. While on plumbing duty in Brooklyn, Mario and Luigi come across a mysterious force affecting the sewer systems. They check it out and end up getting sucked into a green pipe that warps them out of Earth. While the two were hurdling inadvertently, they ended up separated in two different lands.

Mario ends up in the Mushroom Kingdom reigned by Princess Peach Toadstool, (played by Anya Taylor-Joy). He is met by an adventurous mushroom man named Toad who leads him on to see the princess. After Mario gets through and wins over the princess’s attention, she aids him in his journey carrying immense pride and bravery. 

 The movie opens up with the brothers going about their plumbing service with a take on the theme song of “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show”.

I wanna say that when I witnessed that projected onto the gigantic screen, my face lit up. That intro is near and dear to me. 

A trope that was broken in this movie was the presence of Princess Peach as a damsel in distress. She’s shown to be just as heroic as Mario. Luigi takes up the damsel role and it works well without seeming out of place as Luigi is Mario’s younger, more fearful brother. 

A guy risking his life to save his little brother from danger just seems more realistic than him going out of his way to save a woman he didn’t even know existed until recently. What I don’t like is that they totally change Peach’s personality for this and basically make her like Luigi’s love interest, Daisy.

The critical reception of this movie deviates from the public perception. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the Tomatometer is rated at 59%, while the audience opinion is rated at 96%. I just think this isn’t a movie for critics. Adam Olinger of “Adam Does Movies” on YouTube captures this idea perfectly, “I’m not sure what high art some of these critics are looking for but The Super Mario Bros. movie works for both fans of the long lasting game franchise and people who want an entertaining escape.”

I asked someone who I know has seen the movie, senior Nathan Eaton, in order to just get a taste of public opinion. “The animation is really good, the voice acting not so much.” He criticized the performance of Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong as just being Seth Rogen as a monkey. I can agree with this because Donkey Kong doesn’t even talk at all. He’s supposed to make gorilla noises and be endearing but they made him an arrogant jock. 

The movie isn’t rocket science, it’s just a Mario movie. It carries what it was meant to do, provide nostalgia, action, and comedy. I wouldn’t call this a masterpiece but to say it’s the worst thing Illumination has made, that’s just delusional. It certainly isn’t the worst Mario movie either, I don’t care how much I hammered in that point. That movie is less pleasant than Donkey Kong’s armpits.