As a 90’s baby, I grew up on Mario. I remember Christmas when I was 9 or 10 and my parents got me a GameCube. They got me all sorts of Mario games including Mario Kart, Dance Dance Revolution, and Super Mario Sunshine. I remember playing on my best friend’s brother’s Nintendo 64 as a little kid. We spent so much time together playing Mario games. My husband, a fellow 90’s baby, grew up with the same experience. I remember two weeks after we got married we bought the latest Nintendo gaming device which, at the time, was a Wii U. We got the latest Mario Kart and beat the entire thing together. When we had kids, we couldn’t wait to introduce them to Mario. We now have a Nintendo Switch and love spending time together playing Mario Kart. Our kids love the Mario franchise as much as we do. So, of course, when the new movie came out, we raced to the theaters to see it. (Did you catch my Mario Kart pun?)

I knew the Mario movie would be good, but I had no idea how good. I am going to be giving some SPOILERS, so here is your warning to click off if you haven’t seen the movie yet. 

About the Movie

The movie has different Mario game theme songs, which was absolutely delightful and nostalgic. I had no idea how wholesome and heartfelt it would be. It starts with Mario and Luigi starting their own business. So far, they haven’t been very successful in life and their father is disappointed in them. They then somehow end up falling into a pipe that leads them into a magical vortex. They try to stay together, but Luigi goes down one hole, and Mario another. Luigi goes into Bowser’s land (the big evil bad guy). Mario goes into the land of the Toads (full of delightful little creatures where everything is cute and happy). Mario soon meets Princess Peach, the ruler of the toads, who decides to help Mario defeat Bowser and save Luigi. 

Now you’re probably thinking… “How did I end up on a Mario Movie review on, and what on earth does this have to do with adoption?” Well, I am getting to the point. As an adoptee, we often get hit with adoption themes in music, movies, and tv shows. It usually hits when we least expect it. And that is exactly what happened in the Mario movie. At one point in the movie, Mario and Peach are talking. Mario asks how Peach got to the toad’s world. You see, the toads are little mushroom-like creatures, and Peach is just a normal human like Mario. Peach says when she was a little toddler, she accidentally fell into a hole that landed her in the Toad’s world. She didn’t know where she had come from, and she had never seen another human until she met Mario. She also confesses to Mario that she has no idea who her parents are, and then she asks him about his world. She tells him that the toads have raised her like she was one of their own.

So many adoption topics are crammed into that scene. Peach tells us she is a foundling, someone with no parents present who is found and adopted. She tells us she has a desire to know her birth parents, and she expresses experiencing genetic mirroring with Mario. She also expresses that the toads have raised her like she was one of their toads. Peach is an adoptee. At the end of the movie, Peach ends up back in New York City with Mario and Luigi. We see them at the end in the Toad’s world working as plumbers and helping Peach and the Toads. 

How I Relate

I have to say, as a 25-year-old mom and adoptee, I didn’t anticipate relating so much to Princess Peach. I was raised in a closed adoption where I didn’t even know I was adopted until I was 8 years old. I had never seen another person who looked like me, and I had a strong desire for genetic mirroring. (Genetic mirroring is the event of seeing yourself in another person. Whether it is a facial feature, or personality trait, genetic mirroring is a fundamental part of child development.) Princess Peach expressed this to Mario when she told him that he was the only other human she had ever met. She finally felt like she fit in with someone or something.

Even though it was a small subplot, having a healthy little glimmer about adoption in a children’s movie was so nice. I am sure even kids who were adopted in the past ten years who are watching it will be able to relate to Princess Peach. I love to see adoption representation in children’s movies, even if it was totally unintentional, by the writers. When I was a child, even before I knew I was adopted, I was obsessed with adopted-related stories. Madeline, the little French orphan girl, was my favorite. I had all sorts of Madeline books, watched the live-action movie weekly, and carried around a Madeline doll. I even hoped that I would have to get my appendix out someday so I could have the same scar as Madeline. It is amazing how children cling to characters in books and movies who may be similar to them. I noticed my adopted siblings do the same thing when the movie Tangled came out. 

The Mario Movie implied that a sequel will be made. And with how popular it was, I am sure they will come out with another movie. They left the plot and mystery of Princess Peach wide open. They have a lot of good for adoption that they can do with her story. I really hope they are able to show the sadness and joy that adoption comes with. I hope they are able to help children feel both of those emotions at the same time. Until the sequel comes out, I will hope and pray that they do a good job with Princess Peach’s story. Will we get to meet Princess Peach’s parents? Will she gain a sibling or two? How will she handle it? How will the Toads handle it? Regardless of how you are connected to adoption, I would encourage you to watch the Mario movie. It has a touch of adoption, loads of brotherly love, humor, and lots of nostalgia for us 90’s kids.