The Super Mario Bros. Movie Honors One Of Mario Kart's Best Shortcuts

After the box-office disaster that was 1993's ambitious and perhaps misunderstood "Super Mario Bros.", Nintendo has been especially protective over the brand integrity of the "Super Mario" franchise. Three decades later, the video game adaptation has become a bankable genre, especially with the success of Paramount's "Sonic the Hedgehog" live-action movies as well as this year's "The Last of Us" TV series on HBO. Now, it's Nintendo's time to shine again, so it has teamed up with Universal Pictures and animation house Illumination (known for the "Despicable Me" franchise) to bring Mario back to the big-screen in a way that is Shigeru Miyamoto-approved.

For better or worse, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is extremely dedicated to faithfully recreating every minutiae of the video games, resulting in what feels like a safe but entertaining theme park ride. As an origin story for the franchise, the plot is ultimately as thin and full of unanswered questions as you'd expect from the games themselves. But on a visual and technical level, it's a full celebration of every era of Mario's history. From the wide array of power-ups and recognizable sound effects to the deep-cut references to classic NES games, it's a nostalgic, 90-minute spectacle.

One climactic sequence has our gang of heroes on a literal race against the clock. Mario (Chris Pratt), Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), Toad (Keegan-Michael Key), and Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) find themselves on the infamous Rainbow Road. Here, the movie directly references one of the Mario Kart video game's riskiest shortcuts: driving off road to land on a lower platform of the track.

A time-honored speedrunning tradition

As Bowser (Jack Black) and his minions quickly approach the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario and Peach successfully unite with the Kongs for the greater good. In order to catch up with Bowser and his fleet, Cranky Kong (Fred Armisen) devises a plan to intercept his army via a "Mad Max: Fury Road"-style battle on Rainbow Road. First, there's a brief sequence in which our heroes create their karts with the exact same customization sliders and buttons first introduced in "Mario Kart 7," and then it's off to the races. As a remix of Koji Kondo's "Mario Kart" theme blasts, the transparent and colorful road manifests.

Ever since 1992's "Super Mario Kart" for the Super Nintendo, a new version of the track has been featured in every entry of the series as the grand finale. The Rainbow Road represented in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is not an exact 1:1 recreation of any particular version of it found in the games, but it's faithful to many of the same aesthetics and rules. The neon road is fully composed from a beam of light that swoops around the night sky with little to no guard rails, making it one of the more challenging tracks to maneuver in any given Mario Kart game.

However, more experienced players know exactly how to take full advantage of the rail-free design. In most versions of Rainbow Road, it's possible to skip entire portions of the track with enough planning and a well-timed speed boost. One of the more famous examples of this is from "Mario Kart 64" (seen above), but the speedrunner community has found plenty of more exploits throughout titles like "Mario Kart Wii" and "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe."

They couldn't ignore the highest-selling Switch game

Plenty of Nintendo easter eggs abound in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," but the primary plot and set pieces themselves seem to chiefly focus on the mainline series of "Super Mario" games, largely ignoring spin-offs. However, the success of Mario Kart is too staggering for corporate synergy to ignore. Over 50 million copies of "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe" have been sold, making it the most successful game on the current Nintendo Switch platform. There's even a Universal Studios e-ticket attraction based on the game at Super Nintendo World.

At times, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" plays like Nintendo's shiniest new feature-length ad for the Mario brand, but whether you were a kid on the N64 with too much free time or an expert member of the speedrunning community, it's thrilling to see such an honored video game tradition make it onto the big-screen.