“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” portraying famous Nintendo video game characters Mario and Luigi hit big when it came to box offices opening weekend. These long-loved characters made their way to the big screen on April 5. With the help of a large audience racing to theaters on Easter weekend, the film has made $1.045 billion globally and is now in first place with records set.
Many aspects of the film were up for debate leading up to its release, from the film’s voice acting to its plot—all pointing to the question of if the movie correctly portrayed the Super Mario Bros. world.
The voices of these characters have a larger impact than most think. What many people hear on screen shapes the way they will know the characters long term. Whether they were delivered correctly or not is up for discussion.
Since the first teaser came out back in October 2022, Mario enthusiasts were concerned that Chris Pratt was going to blow his role as Mario. The traditional thick Italian accent that fans are used to hearing in their favorite games did make a brief appearance at the beginning of the film, but shortly after we heard Mario and Luigi’s “real voices.”
And the voices weren’t all that bad. Pratt managed to give spice to his voice, which formed a unique personality for the Mario character. Charlie Day, who played Luigi, also did a great job, neither dramatizing the voice too much nor keeping it too simple.
Above all else though, it’s clear that the real star of the film in the voice acting department was Jack Black, who provided the voice of Bowser. Black's unique energy and persona made Bowser the most interesting character to see and hear on screen.
Most actors and actresses gave fans what they were hoping for. Seth Rogen, voice of Donkey Kong, was the only voice that didn’t quite match the character. Donkey Kong being seen as such a tough character in games, could have used a deeper voice. The comical side of the character was not terrible, the only downside is that when Donkey Kong speaks, we hear Rogen rather than the well-known character.
A point that has a lot of viewers talking is the character plot of Princess Peach, voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy. We have long known Peach to be the “damsel in distress”—a princess who is kidnapped by Bowser and hopeless until Mario and Luigi come to her rescue. But Taylor-Joy’s commanding voice helped depict the princess as an active and action-ready fighting machine who will go to any length to protect her subjects. She is able to hold her own, and in any situation, is prepared to face danger head on.
The pace of the movie was quick, something derided by many critics, but what many seem to forget in this conclusion is that this is a children’s movie. A 92-minute runtime was the perfect amount of time for kids to stay engaged. The film also does a great job of getting to the point without adding in layers of fluff.
Directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic made sure that their film brought the audience’s favorite Mario universe games to screens as well. Mario Bros. fans will catch references to the games they love so much, such as Mario Kart and Donkey Kong.
Outside of the film itself, marketing for the movie was exquisite. As soon as you step into the theater, you see drinks and food that are Mario themed. The recent opening of Super Nintendo World Hollywood back in February also helped bring excitement for fans to see these characters on screen.
After extensive marketing, it’s refreshing to see “Super Mario Bros. Movie,” could match expectations. Children’s movie or not, the film delivered well-represented characters, beautiful animation, solid voice work, and, for many, sweet nostalgia.