Directors Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic, and Pierre Leduc should be proud of what they accomplished. Many have tried to make movies based on video games and many have failed miserably. The list of failures is extremely long and includes the likes of Tekken, Street Fighter, and Rampage (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can’t save everything). But The Super Mario Bros. Movie sticks to its roots and oozes authenticity for 90 minutes.

The adventure begins in Brooklyn (like their actual origin story from the game) where Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) take a big risk to start their own plumbing business. With doubters all around them, the brothers took a leap of faith and set out on their first day of work. When the opportunity of a lifetime (saving Brooklyn) falls into their lap, the two set out to make a name for themselves to prove the naysayers wrong. When searching for a resolution leads them into the sewer, the brothers end up making a discovery that would transport them into another world, ultimately separating them. It’s now Mario’s responsibility to find his brother and get them back to Brooklyn.

(from left) Mario (Chris Pratt), Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), and Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) in Nintendo and Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie, directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic.

Everything about this movie just screams authenticity. The O.G. Mario voice actor Charles Martinet had a feature, the film used original tracks from several Super Mario Bros. games, and the list of characters you get to see is enough to please any Nintendo fan.

One of the many things I love about the film was the backstory behind Bowser (Jack Black). You can tell it’s Jack Black once he breaks out into song (which is hilarious) and the way he’s just enthralled by Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) fits the gaming narrative as well. To call Bowser “obsessed” would be an understatement and actually plays pretty well on the fragility of the male ego. A King Koopa who destroys kingdoms in search of absolute power has only one weakness: a princess. I was unsure of Black voicing a character that many for so long have penned as gruesome and evil, but Black’s periodic stints of humor were hilarious and provided something ‘lighter’ for younger children.

Mario (Chris Pratt) in Nintendo and Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie, directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic.

We see everything from Mario Kart to Donkey Kong, a kingdom full of Toads, a herd of Yoshis, and Mario’s extended family. Super Mario staples make appearances too like Rainbow Road from the Mario Kart series and Princess Castle from Super Mario 64. With powerups to boot and a superfluous amount of nostalgia, kids and lifelong fans alike will enjoy this film.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie gets a 9 out of 10. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and like many, attended in my own Nintendo-themed attire. Taking a peak into Mario’s extended family was nicely done, as was the gradual involvement of so many beloved characters from the franchise. The main difference between the film and the video game is that Princess Peach doesn’t need saving because she’s an absolute savage.

It took a mere five days for the film to achieve the “best opening animated film of all time” boasting $375 million in global sales, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

-Jon Jones

Photos: Courtesy of Nintendo, Illumination Entertainment, and Universal Pictures

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