Game Fin. The highly anticipated animated adaptation of the timeless game series is more accurately titled The Super Princess Peach Movie, because you will spend significantly more screen time with the superhero-like Princess Peach than you will the title characters. Mario and Luigi take a backseat (and Luigi, a WAY back seat) to the flawless Princess Peach on an adventure to save the Mushroom Kingdom.
While some have characterized this movie as a love letter to the Mario universe of games, the irony is that the screenwriters were demonstrably more concerned with easter eggs and cameos than they were telling a good, meaningful story with the beloved interactive media characters and worlds.
A feature film adaptation of a video game is on shaky narrative ground when the original video game has greater stakes than the movie version. Never once are you second-guessing Princess Peach’s–uhh, I mean–Mario’s ability to defeat King Kupa and save the legacy Nintendo realm.
Most of the humor is either short-lived or falls flat. While we don’t look to these types of movies to deliver deeply moving character development, movies like this should at least seek to deliver clever plotting to engage the audience beyond a superficial level. There are no twists nor are there any real turns after the movie sets up the story (a term which is giving the movie way too much credit) that is about to unfold.
The best scenes in the movie are the ones with Donkey Kong, because there is better executed setup and delivery in the conflict. Furthermore, Donkey Kong is the only character that has any kind of measurable agency in the movie.
Movies that feature a character(s) that is either exceptional at everything or continually fails in order to make another character(s) look more superior offer very little to be desired, much less craft a movie that is rewatchable. The movie works as a fun nostalgic trip through the legacy of the Mario universe of games, but the one-dimensional characters and vapid plot greatly hold this movie back from the quality it very well could have been.
I’ll give the movie this: I did make me want to download an N64 emulator and buy an N64 bluetooth or USB controller for my computer so I could relive my childhood playing Mario 64. So if it prompts others to get together with friends or their kids to play these timeless games, then the movie does have a positive affect upon the audience.
Ryan teaches Film Studies and Screenwriting at the University of Tampa and is a member of the Critics Association of Central Florida and Indie Film Critics of America. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog! Interested in Ryan making a guest appearance on your podcast or contributing to your website? Send him a DM on Twitter. If you’re ever in Tampa or Orlando, feel free to catch a movie with him.