Nostalgia is an emotion that can transport us back to fond memories from our past. For many of us, the world of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. was a significant part of our childhood, and the memories associated with those beloved characters remain vivid and cherished. Watching cinematic adaptations of our favorite Mario games is an experience filled with excitement and wonder, taking us on a roller coaster ride back to our childhood. The enduring popularity of the characters and their adventures is a testament to their universal appeal and impact on generations of fans.

Courtesy of Universal

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which premiered on April 5, has brought the beloved video game franchise to life on the big screen. The film features Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day), who find themselves unexpectedly transported to various new galaxies, embarking on a mission to save the universe from the threat posed by Bowser (Jack Black). As they journey through perilous terrain and face countless challenges, Mario encounters Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy). They grow closer as they fight to protect the kingdom from Bowser. Action-packed sequences fill the movie’s storyline with an abundance of Nintendo easter eggs, such as the kart customization garage in “Mario Kart 8” (2014) and Bowser’s wedding outfit from Super Mario Odyssey (2017).

The film is a standout in its genre due to the focus on delivering pure thrills, rather than striving to convey a heavy social or political message. For example, “Kung Fu Panda” (2008) displays the value of owning up to responsibilities and personal development, while “Zootopia” (2016) encourages young minds to condemn racial segregation. Contrastingly, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” does not promote a socio-political message but manages to keep viewers engaged by constantly introducing new components, such as a kart fight featuring bananas, rockets and an entire arsenal of weapons on Rainbow Road. The film grows on familiar viewers through its use of classic question mark boxes, fire flowers and mushrooms. While we may not learn much about each character individually, the movie succeeds in creating a dynamic and immersive world that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

Despite the film’s thrilling and mesmerizing qualities, the story of the Mario brothers falls short overall. Rather than focusing on the dynamic between the two brothers, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” becomes a one-man show led by Mario, leaving Luigi with minimal screen time. This lack of balance in character development ultimately fails to portray how the two brothers complement each other. While the film gives us a glimpse into each brother’s primary characteristics, such as Mario’s courage and Luigi’s timidity, it leaves us in the dark about how they developed such distinct personalities. Additionally, the film neglects to provide us with much information about their lives leading up to the events of the story. Though we typically see Mario as the more adventurous of the two, the film misses an opportunity to explore Luigi’s character arc in greater depth, thus neglecting to depict a more nuanced exploration of the Mario brothers and their iconic partnership.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” features a talented cast but fails to capture its audience with voiceover acting performances. The voiceovers lack creativity and fail to fully capture the characters’ personalities. In particular, Pratt’s performance as Mario feels rushed and lacking in depth; as if it was recorded on a very limited time budget. Contrastingly, Black’s portrayal as Bowser is a standout, bringing a range of emotions to the character, from sinister to hopeless love. His singing also adds a touch of humor and entertainment to the film. Additionally, Seth Rogen and Keegan-Michael Key deliver solid performances, with Rogen’s portrayal of Donkey Kong showcasing a contrast between overconfidence and inner insecurities. Despite these strong performances, the film overall fails to fully utilize the talents of its cast and falls short of creating a memorable experience.

While “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” may not be considered a cinematic masterpiece, lacking the creative depth of its video game counterpart, it does succeed in bringing a sense of nostalgia and joy to Nintendo gamers who grew up with Mario and Luigi. Despite its hype as one of the most anticipated films of 2023, the movie does not deliver a powerful story that expands on the creative potential of the franchise. Instead, the film feels like a commercial move designed to reignite viewers’ nostalgia for the Nintendo game rather than offering something new and exciting to broaden the franchise’s appeal.


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Yashonandan Kakrania (he/him, 26B) is from Kolkata, India. He is pursuing a dual degree in BBA and MSBA. He is a huge film enthusiast. Outside the Wheel, he is a SA in Dobbs Hall, Board member of Hindu Student Association, and a part of different business clubs.