I was a little worried when the first critics’ reviews started rolling in for the gorgeous-looking Super Mario Bros. movie adaptation from Nintendo and Illumination, which boasts a star-studded voice cast, that finally hit cinemas this week. A 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 154 reviews so far? You might as well cue the Mario Bros. “game over” melody — or so it seemed, at least, until the audience reviews began to arrive.
The difference between takes from professional critics and ordinary viewers on this one is about as stark as the one between night and day (or the difference between a loveable red plumber with a mustache and red cap versus a certain Koopa with a spiky turtle shell who has a thing for kidnapping princesses).
The Super Mario Bros. Movie, so far, has proven quite a hit with audiences — to the point that it’s come right out of the gate with a near-perfect 96% on the review aggregation site (based on more than 1,000 verified fan ratings as of this writing).
- From a 4-star review: “I don’t usually recommend movies. But as a Nintendo and Mario fan I’d say it definitely did what it was supposed to. And very funny.”
- A 5-star review: “The kids and I loved it! And being that I myself have grown up playing and watching the movies and series as a kid it totally lived up to the hype. Everything I expected a Super Mario movie to be.”
- Likewise, another 5-star review: “It brought back so many memories playing the game with my kids.”
Just take a look at how big the difference is between those ratings thus far — who needs critics anyway, right?
Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut on these kinds of things, especially when there’s lots of nostalgia tied up in a piece of entertainment like The Super Mario Bros. Movie. I’m not an (air quotes) gamer, by any stretch, but I’ve spent my fair share of time in the Mushroom Kingdom over the years, enjoying the Mario games on everything from the Wii to the Nintendo Switch to iOS. I’ll certainly be seeing this one in theaters, never mind how many reviewers turn up their noses at it.
It also couldn’t be more obvious to me that the movie set out what it intended to do, and to scratch the same nostalgic itch that the delightful games always did. That’s certainly the way I look at it, rather than, say, the way an art critic might approach Pac-Man. “For all its detailed worlds like the Mushroom Kingdom and Jungle Kingdom,” reads a stuffy review from the New York Post, “the Nintendo film is just another soulless ploy to sell us merchandise that doesn’t bother to disguise its creativity-starved greed.”
Tell me you’re a Bowser fanboy without telling me you’re a Bowser fanboy.