Super Mario Bros. (1993)

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Super Mario Bros. (1993)
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This ain't no game, but it ain't no faithful video game adaption either! Mamma-Mia!
Genre: Science Fiction
"Fantasy"
Action
Adventure
Directed By: Rocky Morton
Annabel Jankel
Produced By: Jake Eberts
Roland Joffé
Written By: Parker Bennett
Terry Runté
Ed Solomon
Based On: Super Mario Bros. by Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo
Starring: Bob Hoskins
John Leguizamo
Dennis Hopper
Samantha Mathis
Fisher Stevens
Fiona Shaw
Richard Edson
Cinematography: Dean Semler
Distributed By: Buena Vista Pictures
Release Date: May 12, 1993 (Cannes Film Festival)
May 28, 1993 (United States)
Runtime: 104 minutes
Country: United States
United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $48 million
Box Office: $20.9 million
Franchise: Mario


"The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Brothers. It was a fuckin' nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! Fuckin' nightmare. Fuckin' idiots."
Bob Hoskins [1]

Super Mario Bros. (also known as Super Mario in Japan, or often referred to as Super Mario Bros.: The Movie or The Super Mario Bros. Movie) is a 1993 adventure comedy film loosely based on the the Mario franchise by Nintendo. It is the first feature-length live-action film to be based on a video game. The film was directed by the husband-and-wife team of Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, written by Parker Bennett, Terry Runté, and Ed Solomon and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution through Hollywood Pictures. Released on May 28, 1993, the film becomes a critical and financial failure, grossing an estimated $35 million worldwide, against a budget of $42–48 million. Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto felt the film tried too hard to replicate the games instead of being a good film. However, despite this, the film gained a cult following in later years and has been recently regarded as a cult classic.

An animated adaptation of the Mario franchise by Illumination is set to be released on April 7, 2023, with the involvement of the franchise's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto.

Plot

Brooklyn plumbers Mario and Luigi get the shock of their lives when they discover a parallel world populated by the intelligent descendants of dinosaurs. It seems they weren't destroyed by meteor millions of years ago but hurled into another dimension and, now, they have plans to rule our world. It's up to our unlikely heroes to battle the evil King Koopa and his Goomba guards, free the beautiful Princess Daisy and save mankind in this adventure of a lifetime.

Why The Movie Got Bob-ombed

  1. A generally poor grasp on the source material:
    • The Mushroom Kingdom in the games is a cartoony fantasy world, but in this movie, the Mushroom Kingdom is a cyberpunk world named Dinohattan.
    • Unlike the video games, Luigi doesn't have a mustache.
    • The Super Mushrooms act as anything but power-ups and are obtained from a weird fungus growing all over the kingdom, not from the question mark blocks seen in the games.
  2. Executive meddling: Initially, when the Walt Disney Company owned the Super Mario Bros. film rights, it was originally going to be made a live-action fantasy film inspired by The Wizard of Oz, The Dark Crystal, The NeverEnding Story, Labyrinth, and Willow; originally, directed by Greg Beeman and written by Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker, Mario was expected to be played by Danny DeVito or Dustin Hoffman and Tom Hanks was expected to play Luigi, whilst the princess was expected to be played by Meg Ryan or Winona Ryder and King Bowser Koopa was expected to be played by Arnold Schwarzenegger or Michael Keaton.
    • However, out of nowhere, the aforementioned people involved in the production of the movie were treated very badly by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, and the early drafts were therefore scrapped, which is extremely devastating given that their original concepts and ideas were more faithful to the original video game, with really neat references, and even had a bit of inspiration from The Wizard of Oz. The only reason why the original concepts were scrapped was because Morton and Jankel wanted to make a dark and gritty Mario movie with no inspiration from the games and with the same aesthetic of Blade Runner and an adult-friendly story, which sounded like an awful idea, considering the fact that said film was usually aimed at an R rating, whilst the Super Mario franchise was usually a family-friendly franchise that both kids and adults would like (though thankfully, the movie had lots of jokes and slapstick humor put into the final product to lighten up its tone significantly and ended up being rated PG).
  3. Some of these characters are in-name only compared to their game counterparts (but mostly in terms of appearance). For example:
    • Princess Peach (or Toadstool) does not appear and in her place is Princess Daisy (who, during that period, only appeared in Super Mario Land). Also compared to Peach, Daisy only got kidnapped once and nowadays seems to make an appearance in the Mario spin-off games.
    • Bowser, or Koopa as he’s referred to in this film, is a human with weird spiky hair on his head rather than a giant fire-breathing turtle with spikes up until the film's climax where the devolution guns Mario and Luigi use against him turn him into a monstrous Tyrannosaurus rex.
    • Toad is just an emo-looking kid who becomes a Goomba, speaking of which.
    • Koopas and Goombas are portrayed as humanoid figures with shrunken, lizard-like heads, a design decision that has been widely mocked.
    • The Bullet Bills are literally just ordinary bullets.
    • Yoshi and Big Bertha also look completely different; Yoshi looks like a realistic dinosaur rather than a cartoony dinosaur and Big Bertha is a human rather than a fish.
    • Iggy and Spike are also not represented well. Iggy in the games is one of the Koopalings debuting in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Spike is just a regular enemy who also made his debut in that game, and yet in this movie they are portrayed as cousins.
  4. Not great character development.
  5. It begins with a pointless dinosaur extinction, which, in no way, relates anything to the plot.
  6. There is some gross-out humor, especially in style with fungi, the scene in which King Bowser Koopa (transformed into a dinosaur) becomes vomiting or the scene where the fungus becomes a human.
  7. Bad acting (except for Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo).
  8. Mario and Luigi don't sound like they have Italian accents despite this being one of their most famous characteristics, which was common in other Mario media made at the time.
    • In fact, it would've made more sense if Italian-American actors played them.
  9. The pacing is not that great; it often ping-pongs from being scary to comedic and vice versa.
  10. The film has extremely laughable dialogue:
    • Examples being Koopa saying "Bob-omb!" and "Monkey!", which caused the both of them to become internet memes.
  11. In order to increase profits and cash in to the success of Blade Runner, the directors wanted the movie to be aimed towards more mature audiences despite the fact that the targeted audience for the Mario games are mainly children.
  12. Mario and Luigi only wear their trademark clothing halfway through the film.
  13. Although the soundtrack is good (as mentioned below), the original Super Mario Bros. theme is only used once in the entire film.
  14. It can be too scary, depending on one's point of view and for a PG-rated film sometimes, like when Koopa gets transformed into a T-Rex at the end.
  15. The film ends on a rather pointless cliffhanger where Princess Daisy asks the Mario brothers for help and it is never revealed what would have happened next, unless you count the unofficial sequel.
  16. The ending and post-credits scenes could've had potential to set up a sequel, but due to the film's bad reviews and failing at the box office, it was cancelled until 2018 when Universal Pictures and Illumination announced an animated reboot of this film. If it did better, a sequel could've happened.
    • However, there is a webcomic which acts as an unofficial sequel.
  17. The sets, depending on one's point of view, can be too gritty for a Mario film.
  18. Due to the film being a box office bomb, it almost damaged Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel's careers, and their direction is really bad.
  19. Some of the special effects are not that great.
  20. For some reason, Luigi appears get a lot more focus in this film instead of Mario, and is treated as the film's main protagonist, despite Mario being the titular protagonist of this movie and the entire Super Mario franchise, and Luigi being the deuteragonist.
  21. There's a pointless scene where Mario says he won't jump, but he does in the video games himself, which doesn't make sense.
  22. Filming was apparently so taxing on the actors that they would get drunk just to make it through the whole ordeal. John Leguizamo was so drunk that he braked too hard while driving a van and slammed the door on Bob Hoskins' hand.
  23. The tone is pretty inconsistent.
  24. Mario and Luigi only wear red and green clothes, respectively, at the end of the film.
  25. The plot can be confusing for some viewers.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Although not faithful enough to the games as mentioned above, there are a good number of references and design choices that are faithful to the Mario games, such as Yoshi having a long tongue and the Bob-omb prop.
  2. The costumes and the set designs are actually pretty good although they might be too gritty as mentioned above.
  3. To this film's credit, there are one or two funny moments, wacky hijinks, and slapstick humor to significantly lighten up the movie, such as the scene when Mario falls to the other dimension and when Mario and Luigi say their real names "Mario Mario and Luigi Mario", and the dialogue, while extremely laughable, is also really charming and funny in its own right.
  4. To give credit where credit is due, a majority of the characters are generally likable and entertaining in their own ways:
    • Mario and Luigi are really funny and endearing main protagonists who selflessly do the right thing and strengthen their brotherly bond throughout the events of the movie.
    • Daisy is a sweet and warmhearted woman who, despite being a damsel in distress for a while, manages to pull through and help the Mario Bros. in saving the day.
    • Koopa is a pretty entertaining villain despite not being a fire-breathing turtle and is comparable to the likes of Donald Trump.
    • Toad remains a steadfast friend and ally of the Mario Brothers and Daisy even after becoming a Goomba and is nothing but kind and helpful.
    • Big Bertha, Iggy, and Spike start out as villains but redeem themselves and help the Mario Bros. in stopping Koopa and their redemption is not half-bad. Iggy and Spike betray Koopa when, after having their intelligence increased, realize that he is an oppressive dictator and opted to help Mario and Luigi and Daisy in stopping him whereas Big Bertha becomes infatuated with Mario when he dances with her and decides to help him out in his and Luigi's crusade against Koopa.
    • Yoshi is nothing but a very good friend towards Daisy and is still very cute and charming in its personality despite being a realistic dinosaur.
    • The Mushroom King, despite being a sentient pile of fungus, does everything in his power to help the Mario Bros. stop Koopa and his heroics are rewarded in the end when he returns to normal.
  5. The love relationship between Luigi and Daisy is very sweet and endearing, although this has not been explored that much since then aside from a Mario Kart Wii course and some other small mentions here and there.
  6. In spite of its infamous cliffhanger, the ending where Mario and Luigi save the day and restore peace back to Dinohattan after defeating Koopa and subsequently restoring the rightful king back to his normal human form is nothing short of uplifting (even if its rather bittersweet since Daisy had to stay behind to help undo the damage that Koopa caused until she showed up again in the cliffhanger).
    • Not only that, but the post-credits scene involving Iggy and Spike isn't half-bad either.
  7. The soundtrack by Alan Silvestri is good, and has some surprisingly great songs:
    • Most notably, "Almost Unreal" by Roxette and "Walk the Dinosaur" by Was (Not Was).
  8. Although some of the acting is bad as mentioned above, Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo's performances are good and the two actors have good chemistry.
  9. The film has gained a reputation of being "so bad, it's good" by its fans and has a strong fanbase to this day, and in all fairness, if judged by its own merits, the movie is actually not that bad on its own (especially given that there is nothing boring about this movie at all) and is tons of fun to watch (though albeit in a mostly ironic sense), even if it's just not a legitimate Mario movie.
  10. The cinematography is decent.

Reception

Super Mario Bros. received negative reviews from critics and Mario fans upon it's release, who praised the innovative special effects, creative artistic direction, and the performances of its lead actors, but criticized the confusing narrative, lack of similarity to the games, and inconsistent tone. Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two thumbs down on the television program Siskel & Ebert At the Movies, citing tonal inconsistency and lack of narrative, and the film was on their list for one of the worst films of 1993.

Even many of the crew regretted making it. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 28% based on 43 reviews, with an average rating of 4.1/10. The site's consensus states: "Despite flashy sets and special effects, Super Mario Bros. is too light on story and substance to be anything more than a novelty.". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "B+" on a scale of A+ to F. On Metacritic, it assigned a score of 35/100 based on 23 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".

Nevertheless, with the advent of the internet, it has gained a cult following as a "so bad, it's good" guilty-pleasure movie.

Cancelled Sequel

The film ends on a cliffhanger. However, even though there was therefore going to be a possible sequel, it's actually a sigh of relief that it was never made due to the negative reception and box office performance. Surprisingly though, an unofficial sequel does exist in the form of a webcomic.

Trivia

  • This film was the first to use the now-industry standard Autodesk Flame software for its special effects, which were considered groundbreaking at the time, and depending on your view, they still look impressive today.
  • The original script for this film was considered way better than the final with being faithful to the source material, which unfortunately is a big kick in the groin to any Mario fan given that it ended up being unused. If you want to read it, click here: http://www.smbmovie.com/SMBArchive/preproduction/script/1_SMB_EarlyDraft_7-17-91.pdf
  • Tom Hanks was originally signed on for the role of Mario and Luigi but was fired from the set during production.
  • Bob Hoskins regretted starring as Mario due to the fact that he was injured several times on set, spend most of the time with John Leguizamo getting drunk to escape boredom and had no idea that Super Mario Bros. was based on the video game until he was told so by his son.
  • After the film received negative reception and bombed at the box-office, Nintendo stopped making movies for nearly 24 years, in which they canceled many live-action or animated movies based on their properties from The Legend of Zelda and Metroid and remained the only theatrical live-action film based on a Nintendo game property until 26 years later when Pokémon Detective Pikachu was released by Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures. Years later, Nintendo announced that they would resume the movie business and team up with Universal Pictures and Illumination to make the upcoming Super Mario animated movie. Shigeru Miyamoto will co-produce the film and it is set to release on April 7, 2023 as a means of, as Deadline puts it, "optimizing the family audience". The film is being directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, and includes the voices of Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, Fred Armisen, Kevin Michael Richardson, Sebastian Maniscalco, and series' longtime voice actor Charles Martinet (but unfortunately not as Mario and Luigi, but rather a currently unrevealed character).
    • Nintendo and Universal also made a theme park called Super Nintendo World based on Super Mario, while Donkey Kong and various Nintendo properties are planned.
    • However, in an interview with the CEO of Nintendo Co. Ltd, he makes a hints that there will be possible film adaptations of their game franchises in the event of the Mario film's success.
    • Because of the recent delay, it will now be released in 2023 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of this movie.
    • Most fans believe that the upcoming animated Mario film could be a massive improvement over the live action one, and they believe it could be good as well as being more faithful to it's source material as opposed to the live action one where it was not.
  • Danny DeVito was considered the role for Mario.
  • Kevin Costner, Michael Keaton and Arnold Schwarzenegger were all considered for Koopa.
  • Some of the scenes from the trailer and promos was been alternated and removed from the final release. Later in 2019, SMB Movie Archive (the fan-site of this movie) found a VHS with all the deleted scenes on his Twitter, which he could release in public and making the director's cut of the movie on Blu-ray and/or Ultra HD Blu-ray in the future. Here are the scenes that were cut.
    1. It could have an extended scene of Daisy's mother been chased by Koopa in the introduction.
    2. Mario and Luigi enter the Riverfront Café to prevent two guys who work with Scapelli (real names; Doug and Mike) where they steal the job since Mario Bros. got the call first. It was the first deleted scene that was finally uploaded on YouTube by SMB Movie Archive.
    3. After Toad was transformed into Goomba, Koopa's technology accidentally sneezed at Koopa where he was been de-evolved by turn into slime. The scene was removed from the final cut until the slime still appeared on the floor was appeared out of nowhere making a continuity error. The deleted footage was later been founded and uploaded on YouTube with the special scene at the end of the human-like-lizard who throw the cigarette at Mario in the prison scene.
    4. Extended car chase scene from reaction shots of Mario and Luigi, who are about to get crashed by another car.
    5. Extended scene where Iggy and Spike told Koopa after he finishes talking with Daisy, which was shown in the trailer.
    6. Iggy and Spike's rap on the Boom Boom Bar.
    7. The ending is different after Mario and Luigi used the de-evolved gun at Koopa as it revealed his true appearance was a Tyrannosaurus Rex/Human hybrid as the heroes quickly throw Bob-Omb at Koopa's mouth it causing him to fall off the Bridge and exploding in little bits once as he hit the water.
    8. After Koopa's demise when he turns into slime, the pizza delivery person gives him a pizza.
  • An adult film parody with Ron Jeremy, Super Hornio Brothers, was bought by Nintendo with the intent to destroy copies of it.
  • Critically, this movie did so bad that not even Nintendo themselves want anything to do with it anymore, which is thus the reason why the movie was no longer sold in stores almost everywhere, and was never sold on digital storefronts, until October of 2021, in Australia, where the movie saw a Blu Ray release, and another print run of the DVD, and a release digital for the first time, which is all done to coincide with the upcoming release of the 2023 Super Mario movie.
  • As with Barney's Great Adventure, the film was banned in Malaysia. mostly due to it being deemed "not made for children".

Videos

Trailer

Reviews and Top 10/5s

External links

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