Super Mario Bros (1993)

Super Mario Bros (1993)

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Sorry, we're in "what" film?
Sorry, we’re in “what” film?

Twitter Plot Summary: Mario and Luigi make the leap from video games to the big screen, and everybody wishes they hadn’t.

Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Family/Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Director: Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton

Key Cast: Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Samantha Mathis, Fisher Stevens, Richard Edson, Fiona Shaw.

Five Point Summary:

1. Mario and Luigi as present day plumbers? Gah, this is going to suck.
2. So Koopa is Dennis Hopper? Srsly?
3. This whole parallel universe thing is rubbish.
4.  Dancing Goombas. No. Just no.
5. Nice use of a Bob-Omb, but other than that… ugh.

It’s a terrible adaptation of the Mario games, make no mistake. Characters share names with their video game counterparts, and Mario and Luigi wear appropriately coloured overalls, but other than that it’s nothing like the video games that spawned it. Mario (Hoskins) and Luigi (Leguizamo) are plumbers in modern day Brooklyn. They’re called to a job where they discover a wormhole to another world in the sewers of New York (stay with me). There they discover a world where the dinosaurs didn’t die out and, rather conveniently, most of them have now evolved into humanoid form. There they meet the tyrannical King Koopa (Hopper) who plans on moving his small, dinosaur kingdom back over to our plane of existence and rule the world. Usual egomaniacal tendencies there, then. It’s then down to Mario and Luigi to stop Koopa and also save Princess Daisy (Mathis) who is the daughter of the true king of Dinohattan. Oh, that king has also been de-evolved into a type of fungus that now covers most of the city. Got all of that? It’s hard work, I know.

There isn’t a huge amount of characterisation to the two Mario brothers within the games other than Mario is determined to save the Princess (Daisy or Toadstool, he never seems too fussed) and Luigi is, thanks to Luigi’s Mansion, a little jittery and scared of things, specifically ghosts. Naturally the movie had to get around this somehow, so Mario is the world weary type whereas Luigi is hopeful and optimistic, which ties into the whole “evil corporations” spiel that filters through the movie. In our world it’s a rival plumbing company with more money and resources but no morals. In the alternate universe it’s King Koopa. Koopa is obviously the big bad in Dinohattan, ruling everyone with an iron fist and controlling the lives of everybody in his dominion – just one look at the dystopian world he has helped create is enough to make his intentions clear.

Dennis Hopper. If Gene Simmons were a dinosaur. Which he might be.
Dennis Hopper. If Gene Simmons were a dinosaur. Which he might be.

You know that whole thing about Mario being able to jump, like, really high and stuff in the games?  You wouldn’t expect your typical modern day plumber to be able to do this, would you? Well the writers thought of this little problem too and gave Mario and Luigi some funky boots that elevate them into the air. I can barely contain my excitement. That whole Mushroom kingdom stuff as well? Pretty much eradicated in favour of generic science fiction plot number 6, the parallel/alternate universe concept. There are some good moments throughout such as the interaction between Koopa’s dimwitted cousins and to be perfectly fair the story itself isn’t that bad really. Seeing the brothers both suit up after spending the best part of the movie in their civilian attire is as near as you get to a fist pumping moment, and there are a few half decent action sequences, the car chase in particular, but they’re not situations Mario and Luigi should be involved in.

If you’re going to watch any film where Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo share screen time, you’re better off watching Land of the Dead. Give this one a miss if you’re a fan of the Mario video games as you’ll be horribly disappointed. For anyone who doesn’t play video games, it’s a standard kid-friendly fantasy adventure designed to sell toys, so it’s debatable if you’ll get much from it either.  It suffers because the Mario universe and its characters have been superimposed onto a standard science fiction/fantasy story, and is about as far away from the original game as it can be without being a unique film in its own right. Bob Hoskins has gone on record to state it as the worst film he ever worked on. Yep, very much so, but it has a certain cult appeal that justifies a viewing now and again.

Favourite scene: Mario uses a Bob-Omb to take down Koopa.

Quote: “Remember, trust the fungus.”

Silly Moment:  Making the Goombas dance in the lift.

Score: 2/5

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