“The Super Mario Bros. Movie”: The Best Animated Film of 2023

Ananth Prabhu, Health & Sports Editor



The long-awaited CGI film, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” finally hit the theaters on Wednesday, April 4, 2023, and it turned out to be a pleasant surprise for audiences everywhere. The film is an excellent homage to the video game franchise, complete with the characters, sound effects, nostalgia and everything else players have come to love about the platforming adventure genre. 


With a star-studded cast including Chris Pratt as Mario, Jack Black as Bowser and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong (DK), the film takes the audience on an adventure through the Mushroom Kingdom, the Darklands and beyond. Anybody who has ever owned a Nintendo console or played a Mario or Luigi branded video game ought to watch this film because it will surely flood the brain with outrageous memories from your favorite video game from the Mario Bros. franchise.


The action sequences are well-executed, and the power-ups are used to great effect. The film has a slow start but picks up as the story progresses. Fans of the video game series will appreciate the nods to the different games, from Super Mario Maker to Mario Kart. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a fun and entertaining piece of bewildering cinematography that makes viewers nostalgic for the days of playing the iconic video games.


It was the first CGI film from the Mario Bros. franchise, but the second Super Mario Bros. movie overall after the failed 1993 live-action release. The entire film was like watching a recap of the last 38 years of the video game series. The same great instrumental music from the games was also found throughout the film, and the musical ensemble was well-fitted into each scene just like that of each level of the games. The orchestral music evoked a sense of athleticism, fearfulness or calm, depending on the accompanying scene.


The start of the film may feel melodramatic, but it drastically improves once the brothers get moving on their adventure. The setting of the film starts in Brooklyn, New York, where Mario and his brother, Luigi, are entrepreneurs in their plumbing company. In Brooklyn, Mario is portrayed as being brave, albeit bullied by Foreman Spike, as seen in the 1985 video game, “Wrecking Crew.” Luigi lives up to the stereotype of being fearful of everything just like in his Luigi’s Mansion series of video games.


Mario grows tired of feeling small and being pushed around by the people around him. He desired to be a hero, so the mischievous plumber tries to find some plumbing-based adventures in Brooklyn with his younger brother, Luigi.


Both Mario and Luigi go exploring in the sewers, and the two brothers get warped to different worlds. Warping is a common method of traveling from one world to a different unrelated world in the various video games of the Mario Bros. franchise. Mario is warped to a world full of mushrooms, known as the Mushroom Kingdom, while the fearful Luigi is warped to the Darklands surrounded by lava and a creepy castle.


The first new friend Mario makes in the Mushroom Kingdom is Toad, and Toad agrees to help find his brother. After meeting Princess Peach, they discover they are after the same thing, which is to stop the psychopathic Bowser who would likely capture Luigi. Thus, Peach trains Mario in a custom platforming course full of obstacles that closely resemble the individual levels of the video game “Super Mario Maker.”


All of Bowser’s expected minions from the video game series make appearances in the film, such as Koopa Troopas, Shy Guys, Dry Bones and Kamek. These minions help Bowser to capture and imprison Luigi. The Ice Kingdom’s Penguins from “Super Mario 64‘s” Cool, Cool Mountain also are found imprisoned by Bowser.


Mario agrees to fight Kranky Kong’s son, DK, in order to get the ape’s brethren to ally with him, fight Bowser and save Luigi. The barrels really started rolling in the DK scenes of the movie. The audience experienced a greater variety of power-ups starting from the DK chapter of the film, such as the micro mushroom, fire flower and cat bell.


Mario ultimately wins the rumble against DK and resumes the mission to save his brother. The apes’ secret weapon is shown, which is using a variety of hovering go-karts as seen in “Mario Kart 8.” Even the Kart selection sequence was the same as the game, with rolling slots and choosing kart customizations. During the succeeding race the Koopa Troopas attack them by throwing items from their own karts just like in “Mario Kart.” After battling on the road, the Koopa Troopas shoot the ultimate blue spiny shell at Mario and DK, forcing them to fall into the murky watery depths. They are then swallowed by a giant eel, another well-known foe, first seen in “Super Mario 64”. The audience sees another favorite and notable foe, the Bloopers.


There are a multitude of homages to all prior Super Mario franchised games that players will instantaneously notice upon viewing the film. A few such games that pay homage to this film are New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario Odyssey. Some foes and power-ups are alluded to a single particular game, while others are ubiquitous throughout the video game franchise.


There are numerous Easter eggs in the film that all the biggest Mario Bros. fans will recognize in a heartbeat. For instance, the first of many Easter eggs is the subtlety of Luigi’s ringtone being the jingle from the GameCube’s booting-up logo’s animation. The last Easter egg took place after the credits of the film finished scrolling upwards. There was a rattling green and white Yoshi egg getting ready to hatch. Like the common Marvel post-credits teasers, the audience may interpret it as a teaser for an upcoming sequel. There were many more hidden trinkets throughout the film, and watching the film is the only way to discover them all.


The storyline of the film may feel lackluster, but the nostalgic vibes more than makeup for it. In video games, there are warp pipes to skip levels and even entire worlds. The sentiment of the movie is a shining example that the journey is the destination, and players of the game and viewers of the movie, alike, ought to avoid skipping storylines as a way to immerse themselves into the full game instead of experiencing the thrill of the final bosses sooner.


The film definitely missed the inclusion of enemies and sprites from the video games, which may require an upcoming animated sequel to this film. For example, the seven Koopalings, Charging Chucks and Sumo Bros. were missing from the movie. Power-ups were also missing in the film such as the feather, acorn suit and propeller. The list goes on when comparing the film to every Mario-franchised game in existence. Even the obscure sprites known as Para-Biddybud and Bramball made their cinematographic debuts upon introduction into the Mushroom Kingdom. The sad exclusion of video game elements may be Nintendo’s plot for an upcoming sequel and a continuing storyline. Furthermore, an upcoming prequel that includes Baby Mario, Baby Luigi and Baby Peach may be in the works or at least a consideration on Nintendo’s part. Much like “Super Mario Maker 2’s ‘Endless’ Mode,” the possibilities of future films are endless as well. Perhaps, cognizant viewers should give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt in these simple, yet critical, omissions.


“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is definitely worth watching for anybody who has ever enjoyed playing any past video game starring Mario, Luigi, DK or Toad. The entire film felt like a glorious 92-minute cut-scene from Nintendo’s video game series. By the publication date of this article, the film has received 7.3 out of 10 stars on IMDB from a total of 85,000 votes. The film earned $204 million during the first week’s box office sales in the U.S. and $377 million globally, according to The Wall Street Journal. Nintendo, Illumination Studios and Universal Studios have come together to deliver a spectacular story of two brothers that have glorified the lives of children since 1985. It is definitely a film worth watching whether people watch it on the big screen or wait to see it on a television or phone screen.