Super Mario Bros. is a 1993 adventure-family comedy based loosely on the popular video game of the same name. It was released by Hollywood Pictures, a subdivision of the Walt Disney Company. Despite its popular background, it was poorly received by the general public. Over time, it has managed to evolve into a cult classic.
The story concerns Mario and Luigi, two Italian American brothers living in Brooklyn, New York who are being driven out of business by the mafia-like Scapelli Construction Company. Luigi falls in love with an orphaned college student, Daisy, who is digging under the Brooklyn Bridge for dinosaur bones. After a date, she takes Luigi to the dig and witnesses Scapelli's men (who, along with Scapelli himself, had previously threatened her to end her research on that specific piece of land for their own interests) sabotage it by leaving the water-pipes open. Mario and Luigi stop the flooding but are knocked out by two strange characters, Iggy and Spike.
Mario and Luigi head deeper into the caves following Daisy's screaming and discover an interdimensional portal through which Mario and Luigi follow Daisy. They find themselves in a strange dystopian parallel world where a human-like race evolved from Dinosaurs rather than the mammalian ancestry of true humans. 65 million years ago a meteorite crashed into the Earth and in doing so ripped the universe into two parallel dimensions. All the living dinosaurs of the time crossed over into this new realm before being sealed there forever. Iggy and Spike turn out to be lackeys (and cousins) of the other world's evil and feared dictator, King Koopa, descended from the T-Rex. However, the two have failed to also bring Daisy's rock, a meteorite fragment which Koopa is trying to get in order to merge his world with the real world that separated from Koopa's world during the meteor strike. It turns out that Daisy is the princess of the other dimension but when Koopa overthrew Daisy's father (and turned him into fungus), Daisy's mother took her to New York using the interdimensional portal. The portal was then destroyed, but when Scapelli was blasting at the cave, the portal was reopened. When Koopa hears about the re-opening of the portal, he sends Spike and Iggy to find Daisy and the rock in order to merge the dimensions and make Koopa dictator of both worlds. Spike and Iggy, however, who had grown more intelligent after being subjected to one of Koopa's experiments, decide to turn on Koopa and join forces with Mario and Luigi. Koopa thinks only Daisy can merge the worlds. It turns out Mario and Luigi were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lucky for Daisy, the plumbers were persistent in finding her.
During the big finale, the worlds merge, during which Scapelli gets his comeuppance when Koopa devolves him into a primate, but Luigi takes back the rock and the worlds separate. Mario fights Koopa and eventually wins when he and Luigi devolve him, making him a Tyrannosaurus, and then primordial slime. The brothers save the two worlds from a cruel dictator and Daisy's father turns back to normal and reclaims control over the kingdom. As the brothers return home, Luigi and Daisy admit their love for one another but Daisy is not allowed to return to New York with them. Mario re-phrases Daisy's words to Luigi but he isn't buying it. Luigi passionately kisses her goodbye and the two Mario Bros. go back to New York, while Daisy, along with Toad, all watch them leave. About three weeks later, Daisy returns for Mario and Luigi's help in fighting more villains. Meanwhile, Mario and Luigi's story is televised, giving them the nickname "Super Mario Bros.".
Old Woman ..................... Sylvia Harman
Narrator ........................... Dan Castellaneta
TV Announcer ................. Robert D. Raiford
Actors and Characters
- Dustin Hoffman begged to be given the role of Mario, due to the fact that his kids loved the video game. Despite his pleas, the role went to Tom Hanks, under the condition that he would be paid $5 million to play Mario.
- Danny DeVito, who was the studio's top choice to portray Mario, was also passed on for Bob Hoskins, due to affordability.
- During his acting sessions, Bob Hoskins didn't know the movie he was working on would be based on a video game until his son asked him what he was working on. When he mentioned the movie's title, his son immediately recognized it and showed him the game on his own Nintendo system.
- In the movie, Mario mentioned that he was going to see "Wrestlemania", revealing that he was a fan of pro-wrestling.
- Despite Steve Buscemi being originally cast as Luigi, the role ultimately went to John Leguizamo.
- Throughout the movie, everyone in the parallel dimension (Koopa's World) called the Mario Brothers "mammals", "plumbers", etc. The exception was the guard at the police station who asked for their identities.
- Daisy's original name was Diana, according to the Super Mario Bros. movie stickerbook. It was soon changed due to the fact that Princess Diana lived during that time.
- The sound that booted up the panel that Daisy used (in the room, where her father was in "fungus form") was a "1-UP" sound effect.
- The movie was filmed inside an inactive cement plant, located in Castle Hayne, North Carolina. The plant was originally designed and intended to be a visual showcase for the use of poured cement.
- Production Designer David L. Snyder (who previously worked as the art director for "Blade Runner") explained how a tremendous amount of effort had to be given to transform the facility into a working location. (To learn more, read the Markee Magazine feature article "The Making Of Super Mario Bros.: It Ain't No Game!")
- The "Super Mario Bros. Movie" audio cassette mentioned a deleted scene, where Koopa de-evolved a Goomba into slime.
- "Somewhere My Love" (by Frankie Yankovic) was the song to which the Goombas were dancing to in the elevator. Later, Toad played a version of it on his harmonica. The song was originally composed for the 1965 movie, "Doctor Zhivago".
- Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the Mario franchise, stated several guidelines that the movie had to follow. Most of them were ignored, however.
- The actors originally signed the paperwork to depict their roles in a fantasy-comedy film style, similar to the movie, "The Princess Bride". During the production, however, the elements of the movie were dramatically altered without the actors' consent.
- An article in Spy magazine claimed that the script was rewritten so often during production that the actors stopped paying attention to the daily rewrites.
- In addition, the actors had to perform their roles while being drunk, with the belief that it would make their accents sound more Italian.
Critical Reception and Sequel
- On the "Conan O'Brian Show", Dennis Hopper stated that his role as Koopa was the worst role he ever had in his career.
- A sequel was later planned but ultimately ended up being canceled due to poor overall reviews and Box Office performance. In fact, the movie managed to produce a revenue of only $21 million at the Box Office, compared to its $48 million budget. This resulted in a net loss of $27 million.