From Mushroom Kingdom to the Big Screen: Inside the Polarizing Success of the Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Mario staring off into the Mushroom Kingdom accompanied by Toad in the 2023 Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Mario staring off into the Mushroom Kingdom accompanied by Toad in the 2023 Super Mario Bros. Movie.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie, adapted by Universal Pictures, with directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, hit theaters on April 5, 2023. So far, the box office for this film has reached a staggering $692.9 million and is even expected to surpass $1 billion, making it the most prominent and highest-grossing picture to hit theaters in 2023. The film features various voice actors for the characters, ranging from Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Chris Pratt as Mario, and Jack Black as the infamous Bowser. However, the movie has gained mixed reactions from various audiences. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes have torn the movie apart- with the average rating amounting to 58%, making it a rotten movie for critics! Meanwhile, the audience score was the exact opposite, amounting the score to a 96%, a certified fresh film! While some speculate the difference in the scores can be easily attributed to the audience’s attachment to the Mario games and characters they grew up with, others attribute it to the cramped and fast pacing of the movie.

Mario and Luigi are depicted side by side in the 2023 Super Mario Bros. Movie.

“The Mario movie is a great movie if you’re looking for a fun movie with stuff you’ve grown up with and has amazing, colorful animation filled with life, but if you’re looking for something with an actual story, then this isn’t the movie for you since it has little to no character growth and doesn’t even have a story while going too fast for anything to feel meaningful,” expressed Nyciere Clark (11). An anonymous source shared a similar sentiment on the movie’s speed: “Despite its poor pacing, the Mario movie takes you on a fun and entertaining ride.” Many critics agree on one aspect of this picture that was of excellent quality: the animation.

Princess Peach, Mario, and Toad are depicted looking off into the distance in the 2023 Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Senior Isaac Portillio expressed, “So, I’d say it’s rather speedy as it’s just an hour and 30 minutes. But otherwise, the animations, sound effects, and soundtracks were definitely good.” This should be no surprise given the film’s $100 million budget. But overall, the sense of nostalgia that the film evokes in its audiences is the most significant factor in its acclaim. “I loved all of it because it was really fun, and it brought back a lot of memories from the Nintendo games. All the Mario Kart references and GameCube references were fun to recognize. As a Mario Kart Veteran- 10/10 movie,” reflected Kiara Speights (11).