‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ is fan-service at its finest


Killian Johnson

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a celebration of a franchise millions of people love, and more people should acknowledge that

Imagine sitting down with friends in a movie theater right before the trailers play. Looking around, there are kids running around in the back rows, parents with smiles on their faces, an old man patiently waiting, and more teenagers than expected. The ceiling lights slowly fade out, the bass in the speakers begins to rumble, and the movie begins.

The thing is, calling it a ‘movie’ is brave. While it has everything a movie needs – characters, plot, and conflict – it does not offer much else. To people who have never engaged with the “Mario” franchise, several plot points make zero sense. To put things into perspective, imagine if you were watching a kids’ movie with your younger sibling and, out of nowhere, everyone is driving go-karts down a road made out of rainbows after recruiting a monkey empire to fight a mean lizard that likes stars. Even by kids’ movie standards, the plot has some gaping holes.

The thing is: none of that matters.

This movie is not trying to be “The Godfather.” There is no lesson for kids to take away, nor is there any great moral lesson. The movie is pure, unadulterated, stupid fun. For some people, that is enough to immediately dismiss the movie as meaningless garbage. If something is not as philosophical as Disney’s “Soul” or as impactful as Dreamwork’s “Shrek,” then it is useless as a film. I disagree.

For kids that have grown up on “Mario,” either through screaming matches with siblings in Mario Party or late nights spent speedrunning Rainbow Road, the movie succeeds in all regards. There are so many references sprinkled through that do not feel forced whatsoever, from the soundtrack transitioning to the original “Mario” theme to characters saying lines so iconic that they have become ingrained in pop culture. For example, even middle-aged parents with a million other thoughts in their minds can recognize the line “Your princess is in another castle” from a mile away.

This movie is a celebration of one of the greatest video game franchises of all time. At the end of the day, this was never going to be a deep retrospective deconstruction of a depressed Italian man attracted to an imaginary princess in a kingdom of mushrooms. There was never going to be a sudden revelation that ‘the real journey was the friends we made along the way.’ The meaningfulness of the movie is found in the cherished memories of millions of children and adults worldwide who grew up with this little Italian man and his faithful brother.

It is a Mario movie, and it succeeds in every conceivable way in that regard.