A Super Smash Hit

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a certified blockbuster, smashing box-office records and making over one billion dollars worldwide in less than a month of opening. The movie is full of decades worth of references and easter eggs from the various video games the mustachioed plumber has starred in, providing entertainment for fans of all ages, from kids to the young-at-heart.

Wholesome Family Fun
Why is this film so popular? First and foremost, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is fun. Its visuals are bright and colorful and the simple plot is lighthearted and whimsical. There’s no cynicism, no social or political agenda, no gratuitous sex or violence—just good, family-friendly entertainment. It’s a refreshing departure from the multitude of modern TV shows and movies that are full of those things. Real life is filled with enough challenges, hardships, and tragedies. We usually want our entertainment to be a relaxing escape from the stresses of life, not an additional source of bleakness and hopelessness, which modern media often presents. Wouldn’t you rather leave a movie feeling happy and uplifted instead of sad and depressed? This is why The Super Mario Bros. Movie is so refreshing, and why it is wonderful that such a fun and wholesome movie is gaining so much success.

The Christian has a greater reason to enjoy the film. Philippians 4:8 says, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This sets the guideline for the type of content and ideas that Christians ought to allow into their minds. The Bible commands us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), which in ancient times represented more than just emotions, but our deepest, innermost being. In response, God will bless those who are pure in heart (Matthew 5:8). Christians must refrain from evil, even in entertainment, and pursue that which is good and pure.

Childlike Wonder
Just as Mario is transported from Brooklyn to the Mushroom Kingdom, the movie also transports viewers back to the first time they played a Super Mario video game, whether it was recently on a modern gaming system or decades ago on the original NES. For an hour and a half, we’re all kids, marveling alongside Mario at the odd creatures and unearthly physics he encounters in a strange new world. As we get older, we risk becoming cynical and jaded, losing the awe and wonder that we felt as children towards ordinary things all around us, such as a pretty rock or a fun-shaped cloud. However, it is through the wonder of creation that we experience God’s glory (Psalm 92:1). It would be wonderful to become children again—to be carefree, innocent, and appreciative of the simple joys of life.

Yet, there is an even greater way that we must be like children. In fact, Jesus commands us to be like children if we wish to inherit the Kingdom of God (Matthew 18:1-4, 19:13-14). What does he mean by this? Children are innocent and humble. We must trust God the way that children trust their parents, recognizing that we are completely dependent on him. Followers of Jesus are called to be mature in their actions and to grow spiritually, but we must never lose our child-like trust in our Heavenly Father.

Celebration of Virtue
While The Super Mario Bros. Movie is lighthearted and whimsical, it celebrates basic virtues and presents Mario and friends as positive models of heroism. Mario always stands up for what he thinks is right and won’t give up in his search for his brother, Luigi. Mario is courageous when Luigi is cowardly, and Mario eventually inspires his brother to be brave as well. Mario believes that he and his brother can do anything as long as they are together, which illustrates the importance of love and family as well as how to rely on each other when we are in need. And in the end, the good guys triumph over the evil Bowser. The movie is simple and straightforward, but sometimes it’s the simplest lessons that we need to remember the most.

A Bright Future
A brief post-credits scene assures viewers that Mario and his friends will return for another adventure. With the massive success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, fans are hopeful that many of their other favorite games and characters will be brought to the big screen. It’s a bright future for Nintendo fans, as well as anyone seeking good, clean, family-friendly entertainment. As movies get darker, grittier, and more graphic, Super Mario Bros. is a reminder that it’s okay for a movie to be simple, straightforward, and delightful. Furthermore, for followers of Christ, it’s wise to choose entertainment that is wholesome and clean.

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Timothy Fox

Timothy Fox has a passion to equip the church to engage the culture. He is a part-time math teacher, full-time husband and father. He has an M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola University as well as an M.A. in Adolescent Education of Mathematics and a B.S. in Computer Science, both from Stony Brook University. Tim lives on Long Island, NY with his wife and children. He also blogs at freethinkingministries.com.