Super Mario Bros. (1993)

super mario bros

“I’m gettin’ arrested for bein’ a plumber!”

The Scoop: 1993 PG, directed by Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton and starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Samantha Mathis, Fisher Stevens, Richard Edson, and Fiona Shaw.

Tagline: This Ain’t No Game.

Summary Capsule: Two plumbers from Brooklyn VS dinosaurs from another universe. Something like that, anyway.

denebbannerDeneb’s rating: Three tardily-delivered pizzas out of five.

Deneb’s review: Oh, I’m not gonna be loved for this one.

In case you haven’t heard, most people, if the ‘Net ‘twere to be believed, have just one reaction to this movie – they hate it. Hate hate hate hate hate. ‘It’s one of the worst video game movies of all time!’ they howl. ‘Maybe the worst! We loathe and deplore it! We will jump up and down on it until it is broken into itty-bitty pieces, and then spit on its remains! Blah! Pooh! Phooey! Bleh!’

Or words to that effect. Anyway, I had avoided this movie for years for just that reason – well, that and something else, but we’ll get to that later. But lately some conflicting opinions have reached my ears, and they finally catalyzed a good many years of idle curiosity. So what if it killed the proverbial cat; I was gonna see this thing, and find out once and for all just what the big deal was, one way or the other.

That, as you may have gathered, has now been done. And here I am, laden with opinions, to scatter them to you free of charge. (You may imagine me dressed as Prince Ali from Aladdin as I do this if you wish; I don’t mind.)

Super Mario Bros, as the title suggests, features, well, the Mario Brothers – Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi (John Leguizamo) to be exact – as the two leads. They’re a couple of Brooklynites who make a living fixing people’s taps and dishwashers. The plumbing business ain’t been too lively lately, though, as freelancers like them keep getting squeezed out of a job by bigger, more powerful contractors. Wotta revoltin’ predicament.

They’ve got a bigger problem, though – significantly bigger. Seems Luigi has fallen for Daisy (Samantha Mathis), a college student currently involved with a local paleontology dig. Oh, the problem’s not her – she’s a sweetie. The problem would have something to do with her getting kidnapped and dragged underground – and when the brothers follow, they find themselves in allllll sorts o’ trouble.

It turns out that the dig is located right on top of a portal to another dimension. This all has to do with it being the crash site of the meteor that long ago wiped out the dinosaurs – or rather, most of them. Those that happened to be nearby at the time were sucked into the newly-formed portal (hey, all kinds of crazy stuff happens when extinction-causing hunks of rock get flung around), and were left to survive as best they could on their own little alternate Earth.

And really, all things considered, they must have done pretty well for themselves, because they not only survived, they ultimately evolved into a race of reptile-men, most of whom are all but indistinguishable from humans. A triumph (sort of) of Darwinian theory!

Yeah, hearts and flowers, all right. Pity about – well, basically everything else.

See, the main burg in this place (and, apparently, the only one) is Dinohattan (although it’s never actually called that in the film), and oh is it a dump. Noisy, dirty, polluted, corrupt, fungus-infested, few (if any) safety laws – the place is a mess. This is at least partly due to the tyrannical leadership of Koopa (Dennis Hopper), who overthrew the previous monarch and now rules with an iron fist, backed up by his legions of brutish Goombas, who follow his every order, since they don’t have the brains not to.

So what does Daisy have to do with all this? Well, it turns out that she’s actually Princess Daisy, only daughter of the old ruler and rightful heir to the throne. Spirited away to Earth as a baby to keep her out of Koopa’s clutches, she’s back home now, and he plans to use her (and a certain plot device she happens to own) as the keystone in his fiendish plot (because of course he’s got one of those; what self-respecting villain doesn’t?). He’s gotten stir-crazy ruling this little ant’s-nest of a world, and plans to bring the two divergent universes back together, making them one once more – which, naturally, will not prove to be a pleasant experience for either (but especially our side).

All in all, a nasty pickle for a princess to be in. Luckily for her she’s got a pair of determined plumbers on her side. True, they’re in way over their heads, but you can’t keep a good Mario Brother down – although Koopa is certainly going to give it the old college try…

Before I get into the meat of this review, there’s an admission I should make – I’m not what you’d call an avid video gamer. Like, at all. Not, mind you, that I have anything against them; I’ve played them with friends a few times, but never by myself, for the simple reason that I’ve never owned a console. (I’m more of a computer game kinda guy.) That might change in time – there are certainly enough games that I’d like to play – but at this point they’re not really a part of my life, and never have been.

As such, I think I view this movie from a different perspective than many. The Mario games are such a universally beloved staple of so many people’s childhoods (and, for that matter, adulthoods) that it’s no surprise they went crazy when the movie came out. ‘That’s not how the game went! This isn’t Super Mario Brothers at all! You bastards! You blew it up!’, etc.

Going by that logic, one can hardly say that they’re wrong. I may not have actually played any of the games myself (well, unless you count a free demo I had at one point that featured a Mario version of ‘Go Fish’), but I’ve gleaned enough about them over the years to know that SMB has little to do with its source material, either tonally or thematically. How exactly do you go from a happy little game where you hop around under sunny blue skies to this dark, claustrophobic dinosaur-world? For that matter, where did the whole dinosaur thing come from in the first place? I know they have their place in the franchise (there is, I believe, an in-game location called ‘Dinosaur Land’ or some such), but it’s overall a pretty minor one.

Also, there’s no denying that the film has some very tone-deaf moments when it comes to writing. I don’t think they’re quite as bad as some have claimed, but when you’ve got your main bad guy spewing out huge chunks of exposition for no apparent reason, then subtlety isn’t really a factor here, ya know? Things would, I think, have been hugely improved if someone had taken it upon themselves to edit down those scenes – you can actually tell where it should have happened; just a minute here, a few seconds there – and let the viewers discover for themselves what’s going on. The film is far from unique in this regard, of course, but I still find it irritating when my cinematic entertainment decides to treat me like a moron.

There are a few other issues, but they can wait. Suffice it to say that, yes, the film is undeniably flawed – but. In a shocking twist that I’m sure will surprise absolutely no one, I… didn’t actually think it was all that bad. In fact, I thought it was pretty good.

Going back to the inaccuracy issue for a moment, let’s play devil’s advocate. Yes, the games and the movie are separated by a fairly wide gulf, but on the other hand, how would you make an accurate adaptation of the Super Mario franchise? If you were dead-set on doing it, how would you do it?

I’m not the first one to make this point, but there’s really not a hell of a lot of plot to be found in these games. I mean, sure, at this point Mario and his friends and enemies have been around long enough that they’ve acquired some more complex motivations and such through sheer persistence, but in the early ‘90’s? They fought the bad guy and rescued the princess. Plot twists? Character development? Of what speakest thou? It was a game that was fun to play, and that was it.

Now, the obvious rebuttal to that would be that there’s a lot more to the games than plot, which, yeah, tends to be pretty slim – there’s a whole bunch of iconic enemies and items and generally shared things that make the Mushroom Kingdom an interesting place to romp around. In other words, it’s not the story that keeps players coming back, it’s the experience, which is probably why so many people riled against the movie – it was nothing whatsoever like said experience.

Fair enough, as far as it goes, but again, how exactly do you replicate the Super Mario experience? We are not, after all, talking about a game series that values real-world logic. The primary focus of the game, princess-rescuing aside, is to jump on enemies, punch steel cubes floating in mid-air which then proceed to spit out coins like startled piggybanks, and eat mushrooms that give you super-powers. The backdrop against which all this happens is a variegated but largely deserted landscape populated mainly by hordes of turtles, ghosts, little guys in masks, man-eating Venus flytraps and giant killer fish, among others, and when you do encounter friends, they’re largely members of a race of sentient toadstools in patterned turbans and what probably would be harem pants if they possessed any visible legs.

‘Nother words, the Mushroom Kingdom is a weird damn place, and if literally replicated would make for a surreal and dreamlike filmic experience. And I, to be fair, would watch the hell out of a movie like that, but it would still take A: a lot of money and better special effects work than they probably had at the time to replicate properly, and B: some serious geniuses on the scripts in order to render all those disparate elements into anything close to a coherent narrative. In the games you take these things in stride, but most movies tend to demand a bit more of an explanation than simply ‘it’s there so you can jump on it’.

As such, given all the above, it’s not surprising that the moviemakers opted to make an, er, not strictly faithful adaptation. And really, they do a better job of working in video game stuff than you might think. Most of the major Super Mario staples are actually there in some capacity or other, albeit changed in some (usually) significant way, but still a basic representation of the original. I’ll list a few in the Intermission section – suffice it to say that even I, novice that I am, found it pretty easy to play spot-the-reference, and I’m sure die-hard fans of the series will find considerably more of them than I did. (And when you get right down to it, the basic plot is indeed ‘fight the bad guy and rescue the princess’, so in that sense they succeeded in fleshing out an exceptionally bare-bones plot structure.)

That being said, those things don’t change the fact that this is clearly not a great representation of the source material. Very well, then, if Super Mario Brothers is not so terrific as a Super Mario Brothers movie, how is it as a movie, period?

On that level, which is where I’m approaching it from, it’s actually kind of interesting, something like an absurdist alternate-reality Blade Runner mixed with the filmic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s got that distinctive early-‘90’s vibe to it that you really don’t get in movies anymore – this was back in the days when you could generally count on at least a few good costumes/sets/animatronics in a big-budget pop culture film, which made them memorable in ways that few CGI creations are nowadays.

And there are indeed some impressive such examples to be found here. Whether or not the film as a whole is your cup of tea, you have to admit that the chaotic, neon-drenched streets of Dinohattan are pretty cool looking, as are the bizarre mishmash of people and vehicles that travel along them. Characters such as the Goombas and Yoshi (yes, Yoshi is in this movie – probably not exactly the Yoshi most people would think of, but still) are realized via some top-notch special effects work that still looks pretty darn good (and incorporates more than one form of SFX technology that was invented specifically for the film), and hey, there’s even some splashes of game-style bright color every now and then. It may not all be exactly eye-candy, but there are few moments that aren’t at least visually interesting.

So far as the actual plot goes, it provides us with some nicely (if a bit cartoonish) adventurous moments, some well-choreographed action scenes, and while some of the humor falls flat, other bits are genuinely funny. The part with the Goombas in the elevator, for instance, is so bizarre it swerves right around into being a weird species of hilarious, and I defy you to not at least chuckle at the scene where the Brooklyn girls, fulfilling their stereotypical image right down to the big hair, high heels and molasses-thick accents, make their daring escape. (Well, anyway, it makes me laugh.)

Also, I might add, this is one of the few examples of Super Mario anything I’m aware of where the two being plumbers is actually utilized in a significant way. Most of the time they might as well be in just about any profession (in fact, in his first appearances, Mario was a carpenter), but here their plumbing skills actually come in very handy over the course of the movie, even during some of the action scenes. It’s not just a nice usage of an often-passed-over part of their background, it also works well to underline their blue-collar roots – these two may be your average working schlubs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t apply their professional knowledge to the art of fighting the bad guys. They’re action plumbers, baby!

Speaking of which, how do the Super Mario Brothers make out in their own movie? Pretty well, I’d say. Again, it is worth pointing out that Mario and Luigi were pretty much blank slates at this point in their careers, so one can’t really say that their depiction here is untrue to their established characters; said characters hadn’t been established yet. They’re blazing a new trail, and overall, they don’t do a bad job.

Let’s start with Mario himself. Bob Hoskins never gave a bad performance in his life that I’m aware of, and this is no exception. He plays the elder sibling as somewhat of a variation on his Eddie Valiant character from Roger Rabbit, only with a better temper and less personal issues. He’s a workin’ Joe who has a close relationship with his little bro – it’s revealed at one point that the two are pretty much alone in the world in terms of family, so naturally Mario is pretty protective of him. Not smotheringly, though – he’s the sort of older brother who lets the kid do his thing, but is there as backup when needed. Purely in terms of his personal character, he’s a practical-minded, level-headed sort of guy, which works fine when he’s in logical situations, but tends to break down a bit when applied to the fanciful nature of Dinohattan.

That’s where Luigi steps in. In this version of things, he’s kind of a charming goofball with a tendency to be credulous about things that he… probably really shouldn’t be. Again, though, this stands him in good stead when entering an alternate reality, as opposed to his brother Mario. It’s interesting to note, though, that the two are really on the same level here – Mario has trouble getting used to this crazy new reality they’re in, but he’s also older and smarter, so he manages to adapt; Luigi adapts pretty quickly, but he’s not the sharpest guy ever, so he tends to lag behind a little. This means that they both have to rely on each other, Luigi on Mario for leadership, and Mario on Luigi for perspective.

Overall, I like Luigi. John Leguizamo was perhaps not perfect casting, but he gives a likable enough performance, and manages to keep his character from becoming annoying, as he easily could have. He and Hoskins play off each other well, and you genuinely buy them (or, at least, I did) as both brothers and a team.

Next would be Daisy, who is not exactly the most proactive of heroines, but then she’s clearly based more on Princess Peach, the games’ usual female presence, and one of the more notorious damsels in distress in modern pop culture – or at any rate, she certainly was around the time the movie was made. (Although there is a Mario character called ‘Princess Daisy’, I don’t really know anything about her.) Going by that logic, she’s actually a bit of a step up – Samantha Mathis is acceptable enough in the role, and she does get some good scenes. Her character is a bit of a damsel in distress, but she’s a believable one; she’ll take the initiative when possible, but what can an untrained college kid do against Koopa’s goons, many of whom could rip her in half without so much as blinking? Not a lot, but she does what she can.

Which brings us, of course, to Koopa himself, definitely one of the movie’s more notorious changes to the franchise. This is one where I’m a bit more in accord with the mainstream – I’m not saying he had to be the spiky turtle-dragon from the games, but it would have been nice if he’d been a bit more monstrous, rather than just Dennis Hopper with a silly hairdo.

That being said, I have to say I like Hopper’s Koopa. Sure, he’s the one who delivers several of the exposition chunks I mentioned earlier, and you couldn’t exactly call his performance subtle, but really, that’s part of its appeal – he’s a xenophobic, germophobic tyrant who wants nothing more than a bigger, more fruitful playing field in which to be a jerk; the man is thoroughly, unambiguously evil, and proud of it to the point where it borders on the surreal; you half expect him to randomly order his minions to go out and exterminate all kittens in the city, just ‘cause. (Well, OK, there are no kittens in the city; it’s all lizards and things, but the nearest kitten equivalent – baby iguanas, perhaps.) Not to mention that Hopper is so bizarrely precise and well-enunciated in his delivery that it makes even the strangest things coming out of his mouth seem like something his character would logically say, because, well, he’s Koopa, and Koopa is crazy like that. Do I wish he’d been a touch closer to his video game counterpart? Certainly, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy him ranting and raving all over the place. I’m only human, after all.

On to the secondary villains. First off is Koopa’s girlfriend Lena (Fiona Shaw). Lena is… a little weird. I get the feeling that a few of the nuances of her character got lost in the editing – there are times when I’m really not sure what her motivation is. Is she scheming behind Koopa’s back, or just suffering from extreme jealousy? There are times when it seems like she’s got this master plan that keeps getting disrupted, and others where it appears equally likely that she’s just as crazy as her boyfriend and is acting solely on impulse. It’s kind of strange.

This is not to say, however, that she herself isn’t worth watching, because she certainly is. Fiona Shaw is a great actress – she would go on to play Mrs. Dursley in the Harry Potter movies, if you’re having trouble placing her – and she delivers most of her lines in something like a purr filtered through an ironic smirk. I may not have any idea what her deal is, but I do enjoy her as a character – if nothing else, she’s got a hairdo that is, if anything, even sillier than Koopa’s. I don’t get Lena, but I do like her.

Next we have Spike and Iggy (Richard Edson and Fisher Stevens, respectively), Koopa’s idiot twin cousins, who act as his goons. These two are the type of comedy relief who walk a harrowing line along the edge of annoying, teetering wildly and frequently on the verge of plummeting into the abyss. They do grow on you, however, particularly after they have an *ahem* attitude adjustment near the middle of the film. They’re basically your typical bumbling duo, but the actors are clearly having fun with them, and manage to keep them this side of acceptable.

Finally, there are the Goombas. These are another major bone of contention amongst the fandom, and in terms of lack of accuracy to the source material, I can’t say I blame them. Game Goombas, for those of you who don’t know, are little armless mushroom dudes with scowling faces who are some of the commonest – and weakest – enemies in the franchise. Movie Goombas are gigantic hulking lizard men with itty-bitty heads. It’s not surprising that many felt this went into ‘how did you get this wrong?’ territory.

I don’t share that viewpoint, however. For one thing, while I only just saw the movie, I had known about their version of Goombas for a long time previously, so when I think ‘Goomba’, it’s the movie’s version that pops into my head, not the games’. For another, I like the movie-Goombas. They’re visually quite impressive, and curiously adorable with their highly suggestible natures and semi-intelligible noises in place of speech. (And, again, the elevator sequence is classic.) If anything, the main problem I have with them is that they’re perhaps a bit too likable – a scene or two where they show off just how dangerous they can be would have gone a long way towards cementing their fearsome in-movie reputation. Still, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy every moment they were onscreen. Go Goomba!

In conclusion, let me just say this – if you’ve seen Super Mario Brothers and you genuinely hate it, you’ve a right to your opinion and I don’t expect any of what I’ve said here to change your mind. It undoubtedly has its flaws, and if they’re deal-breakers for you, fair enough. However, this movie has retained the status of Internet whipping boy for long enough that there are people who will diss it sight unseen simply because everybody knows it’s one of the worst things ever.

I don’t believe this is fair. If you look around, you’ll find that the film has its share of defenders out there, and I’m one of them – it’s not a universally loathed piece of cinema by any means. I think its low reputation may have something to do with the extremely high one that the games have garnered over the years – people want the Mario Brothers to be their Mario Brothers, the ‘It’s-a me!’ Mario Brothers, the colorful, engaging video game characters and world that, in most cases, they’ve grown up with. I can certainly understand that mindset, but I think the movie is ill-served by it – instead, I would suggest that you go in knowing, as you probably already do, that it’s not an accurate adaptation, and instead view it as a sort of homage to the series, incorporating its basic elements into something entirely different and worth viewing as a stand-alone film. I found it a fun, enjoyably cheesy bit of early-‘90’s escapism – you might agree with me or you might not, but either way, I’d urge you to give it a watch.

Now then, um… how to end this… er… Your princess is in another castle? That’s the quote, right? Or is it something about cake – hang on, lemme check my notes…


DnaError’s rating: Dennis Hopper needs the work

DnaError’s review: As a Mutant, I often find myself having to defend my movie choices. Apparently, some people don’t like watching the The Fifth Element or Heavy Metal. Freaks I say, total freaks; and for some reason, these same freaks don’t like watching Super Mario Bros.

Why this movie isn’t already reviewed on this site is a mystery to me. It has all the elements of a cult film: bizarre storyline, twisted sets, genre-locked, normal people hate it, and it’s camped out of it’s ground. I guess, once again, it’s up to a DnaError to bring these things to light! The movie is based on the popular video game, coincidentally called Super Mario Brothers. However, it’s based on the game in the same way that Demi Moore’s The Scarlet Letter was based on the book. They got the names right, and that’s about it.

Frankly, this isn’t a bad thing. The game never had a weighty storyline: eat mushrooms, thomp some koopas, find the princess in another castle. I give the writers credit for taking a basic idea and running with it, turning a simple adventure story into a convulsed cruller of a tale about evolution, ripped-off Blade Runner sets, thinking fungus, lost princesses, other dimensions, and plumbers who save the world. I refuse to rehash the plot here simply because it doesn’t make any sense. Really, it makes less sense then Richard Simmons at an Anorexics Convention. Don’t even try to follow the mind-blinding absurdity of it all. People who have end up taking their food through a tube.

The cast gives a gleefully cornball performance. Bob Hoskins of Who Framed Roger Rabbit fame plays the chubby, Italian-stereotype Mario, and his brother, the younger, taller more sensible Luigi is played by a young, shorter, more random John Leguizamo. Samantha Mathis rounds out the cast as the dinosaur-petting, perpetually-in-peril Princess Daisy, and Dennis Hopper is the evil CEO/President/Leader, Koopa.

While I recommend the movie, it comes with a warning. I have a high tolerance for camp and cheese. I seek it out actually. And the key to enjoying this movie, and others like it, is to just roll with all the bizarrely and overdone-ness and utterly insane fun of it. It’s junk, but it’s FUN junk, that’s what makes all the difference.

justinbannerJustin’s rating: 1UP

Justin’s review: Properly adapting video games to movie formats seems mostly to elude movie studios. I mean, the whole point of making such a film is to capitalize off the popular success of the game, but somewhere in the process, I think Hollywood becomes convinced that all games actually suck and they can do it better by changing everything. C’mon folks, we’ve seen this again and again. It particularly doesn’t help when the game in question is a loose association of dream images with no actual plot.

Enter Super Mario Bros.

If Super Mario Bros. wanted to be really faithful to the game, it would star an unstoppable god-like plumber who lays waste to an entire world. He’d munch on “magic” mushrooms that would make his self-confidence swell and give him the ability to light his farts and throw them. Massive bullets would zoom around the screen at Ω miles per hour with angry faces on them. The hero would stop every two inches to punch walls until whole palaces fell apart due to structural failure. And of course, transsexual dinosaurs spitting eggs from their mouth would be a commonplace fixture, but that goes without saying.

And if this movie really wanted to be true to the game, at the end of the film you’d be informed via big blocky text that the actual ending is in another theater. Then you’d have to watch SMB seven more times until you got the real ending. Well, small blessing for us.

Oh, but that’s not what we get. Skewing toward the head-damaged eight-year-old demographic, Super Mario Bros. samples just a pinch of elements from the game and slathers it over with Funky Wackiness and cartoon sound effects. The end result is a movie that was too strange for normals to rightly enjoy, but will forever exist as a forerunner to the rash of cruddy video game adaptations to follow in the ’90s.

Our two plumbers, Mario and Luigi, follow Token Kidnapped Love Interest Daisy into a parallel dimension caused by a meteor. Curse you, space rocks with dimension-creating abilities! This other dimension is full of fungus (there’s your mushroom connection), bad special effects, and run by the evil Koopa. Bouncing happy stars are nowhere to be seen, and that is bushwa. Convenient for the makeup department, all of the “dinosaurs” in this dimension have evolved into people with neck twitches. Thus, the theory of evolution has been upgraded to, “It doesn’t matter what animal you are, eventually you’ll look humanish.” There’s also a lot of nonsense about a shard of meteor, jump boots, and a cute little dinosaur named Yoshi.

Yes, the producers pretty much wanted every Mario fan out there to fall into fits not by ignoring the game completely, but instead just using the familiar names with random nonsense. “Hey, this is a Goomba!” the producers tell you, pointing at a dinosaur-headed goon. “And Bomb-ombs are now helpful! And very tiny!”

“But but but you can’t” video game fans everywhere say, before falling into comas.

Yet despite all the poor adaptation and kiddie theatrics, SMB has a distinct and pleasant taste to the refined cult palate. This is the kind of film I’d expect to hate without a second thought, but how can I, when they give Dennis Hopper a forked tongue and feature dancing dinosaurs in an elevator? You’d have to be some sort of mass murderer to condemn that. Wait, you haven’t killed an entire cult’s worth of people in the past day, have you?

Have you?

"Oh MY I'm evil! I'm so evil that the wind tries to blow my head off every single day, and always from the same direction! ...Well, anyway, that's MY explanation for this hair. Is yours any better?"
“Oh MY I’m evil! I’m so evil that the wind tries to blow my head off every single day, and always from the same direction!
…Well, anyway, that’s MY explanation for this hair. Is yours any better?”


  • I used to have one of those pin-toys.
  • While the Mario Brothers may not use their signature jumping-on-enemies move during the movie, they do spend quite a lot of time jumping and/or flying through the air.
  • Filming the movie was by all accounts a nightmarish process, due mainly to husband and wife directing team Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton, who apparently were very difficult to work with. It got to the point where the crew was openly defiant towards them, and Hoskins and Leguizamo were coping with the strain only by tossing back the whiskey between takes (although, to their credit, this does not seem to have affected their performances). Hoskins would later go on to describe the experience as the worst of his professional career.
  • At one point, it’s declared that the police cars (and, presumably, Dinohattan cars in general) don’t have brakes; however, we see them braking several times. (Although, given how chaotic the city’s traffic is, they’re presumably not very good brakes.)
  • There are several apparent references to some of the earlier Mario games. According to background material, his girlfriend Daniella’s middle name is ‘Pauline’, which would make her the same Pauline he had to rescue in Donkey Kong (and then there’s the famous ‘monkey!’ scene, likely another DK reference). The character of Scapelli would seem to be an altered version of Foreman Spike from the game Wrecking Crew, who was also obstructive to Mario’s career.
  • A deleted scene would have revealed just why Daisy is such an important part of the world-merging process – she is the last member of the Portal-Keepers, a secret society with special powers.
  • At one point, Spike and Iggy quote the old ‘those who fight and run away’ saying. This may be a reference to The Super Mario Brothers Super Show, where King Koopa, upon defeat, would often utter the phrase ‘Those who Koop and run away, live to Koop another day!’
  • During the Brooklyn sequences, Mario and Luigi pass by a video store with ‘Mr. Video III’ on its sign. This was apparently an actual store, but it’s likely that its inclusion as a background detail was deliberate, as one of the initial names considered for Mario was ‘Mr. Video’.
  • The exact nature of Koopa’s rule is somewhat ambiguous. While at one point he’s referred to as ‘President Koopa’, and the city is covered with his campaign posters, at all other times everyone, including himself, refers to him by his game title of ‘King Koopa’, and the plot revolves around his dealings with the previous royal family. Perhaps it’s a constitutional monarchy?
  • While filming a driving sequence, a van door slammed shut on Bob Hoskins’ right hand, breaking one of his fingers and requiring a cast. Hoskins is wearing the cast (which was painted pink) in some later scenes, which is why it looks like he’s holding out his fingers in a stiff position.
  • The devolution guns are actually repainted SuperScopes, a Nintendo lightgun accessory.
  • A number of background signs in Dinohattan reference minor enemies from the games, such as ‘Bullet Bill’s’, ‘Fry Guy Flamethrowers’, and ‘Hammer Brothers Tattoos’.
  • Mario’s final showdown with Koopa contains elements from their battles in the original Super Mario Brothers and Super Mario World.
  • There were FOUR directors for SMB, two uncredited. That’s never a good sign.
  • This film draws off the popularity of the Nintendo Super Mario Brothers games, which have included (among others): Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3., Super Mario World, Mario Kart, Mario 64, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario RPG, Mario Kart 64, Super Mario World 2, Super Mario Land, Super Mario Land 2, Super Mario Land 3, Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, and Super Mario Sunshine.

Groovy Quotes:

Mario and Luigi: (repeated line) Glug glug glug glug glug!

Lena: Hello, morons.
Iggy and Spike: (cheerfully) Hello!

Mario: (prompting Luigi) Dinner.
Luigi: (to Daisy) Do you eat?

Koopa: Goomba! Walk tall, be proud! Go Goomba!

Mario: No woman can resist the charm of a Mario.

Iggy: I bag her, you grab her.
Spike: No, I grab her, you bag her.
Iggy: That’s what I said.
Spike: Exactly.

Luigi: ‘Aliens’? What, we gotta deal with aliens too?
Mario: Luigi, we’re the aliens!
Luigi: We are? Whoa, cool!

Mario: Come and get it, lizard-breath!

Luigi: If you touch her, I’ll kill you!
Koopa: I’ll meet you in the playground after school.

Mario: I’m gettin’ arrested for bein’ a plumber!

Koopa: Do you know what I love about mud? It’s clean and it’s dirty at the same time.

Toad: Say, what’s another word that rhymes with dimension?
Mario: Yeah, ‘tension’, an’ I’m full of it, so shut up.

Iggy: For mammals, you guys are quite acceptable.

Mario: Great. A building with athlete’s foot.

Koopa: You know what they say about little girls, don’t you? Hmm? They say they never forget the first time they’re kissed by a lizard.

Mario: The name’s Mario. I’m your main man, your ram-a-dan, your can of Spam…

Spike: Was she corpulent, very corpulent?
Luigi: No no, she’s just really round.

Koopa: Monkey!

Luigi: If you wanna end this right now, and you feel bad about that, but you wanna talk to somebody about it, you can call me.

Iggy: Fascist!
Spike: Oppressor of the proletariat!
Koopa: (pointing at himself) Guy in charge!

Mario: Come on, ruffle-head, let’s see what you’re made of!

Luigi: Where’s Daisy?
Iggy: Oh no no no no, where’s the rock, scallywag?
Luigi: Where’s Daisy, butt-breath?
Spike: Where’s the rock, overweening rogue?
Luigi: Not ‘til you give us Daisy, biscuit-head!
Iggy: Where is the rock?
Mario: Shut up!

Koopa: Die, plumber!

Mario: What my brother is tryin’ to say is he doesn’t know what to say.

Iggy: O for five, O for five – what percent is that?
Spike: I don’t know. Let me think. (Beat) I don’t know. But it’s not good.

Luigi: Trust the fungus.

Koopa: Muster the Goombas! Hand out the de-evolution guns! Prepare for destiny! …Where’s my pizza?

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Mortal Kombat
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Blade Runner


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