Mario goes Hollywood
Twenty years ago, Super Mario Bros. made the leap from the NES to live-action theatrical films, in the process creating an unforgettable piece of cinematic history. Believe us--weve spent those last 20 years wishing we could forget. Completely ignoring the personalities and whimsical tone of the Super Mario video game series, the film is a bizarre mess that attempts to shoehorn some of the series concepts into a realistic setting, and the result is barely recognizable as the property that gamers around the world know and love. Nintendo has since tried to quietly push the movie under the rug and pretend it never happened (we can confirm that for a while, Nintendo Power magazine was banned from mentioning the movie in its pages), but fear not: were here to commemorate this auspicious anniversary with a look back at the films top 20 strangest, most ridiculous, and most questionable moments.
Talk like a dinosaur
The Super Mario Bros. movie begins with a crudely animated sequence featuring talking dinosaurs. Because, you know, thats what everybody thinks of when they think about Mario. Unfortunately, the whole talking-dinosaurs bit is integral to the films plot, and the introduction--which just so happens to be narrated by Dan Homer Simpson Castellaneta--goes on to explain how the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs just so happened to create a gateway to another dimension. Yup.
In the games, Mario is known for being a pretty happy-go-lucky nice guy. Sure, he typically kills pretty much every creature he comes across, but at least he does it with a smile on his face. In the movie, though, Mario is basically a grumpy psycho. Not only is he miserably complaining throughout most of the adventure, but theres one point where he proclaims, Im gonna break every bone in their body! And then Im gonna kill em! Im REALLY gonna kill em! Sure enough, before long he starts clubbing people upside the head with plumbing tools. We always suspected Marios good-guy image was just an act!
Ever wondered why Mario and Luigi are known as the Mario Bros. instead of something a bit more all-encompassing? Well, according to the movie, its because Mario and Luigis last name is Mario. Its true. When the duo gets arrested, they give their names as Mario Mario and Luigi Mario--hence, they are the Mario Bros, and theyre even listed by those names in the credits. Miyamoto later refuted this, but its all there on the screen.
Early in the movie, the Mario Bros. cross paths with the requisite damsel in distress, but its not Mario-series mainstay Princess Toadstool (better known these days Princess Peach). Instead, its Daisy, who was the princess of Sarasaland in Super Mario Land for the Game Boy. Of course, in this movie Daisy is a 20-year-old archeology student who ends up having a thing for Luigi, but that doesnt explain the absence of Princess Toadstool. Mario does, in fact, have a pink-dress-wearing girlfriend in the movie--but it isnt Peach, nor even Pauline from the Donkey Kong games. (Her name is Daniella; she works at a tanning salon.) So where did Toadstool go? The movie never tells us.
A princess is hatched
Oh, yeah, we almost forgot--Daisy is actually a refugee from that other dimension, where the populace descended from dinosaurs. In the movies prologue, we see a mysterious figure drop off a package at a convent. Inside the package is an egg, and from within the egg... hatches baby Daisy. After the egg hatches, were pretty sure we see a nun do a face-palm.
A fungus among us
Eventually Mario, Luigi, and Daisy end up in the alternate dimension, ready to save the day by fighting the evil King Koopa. But this new world isnt a wild, creative, miraculous place like youd find in the Mario games. Groaningly dubbed Dinohatten, its actually a lot like a regular city on Earth, only, um, crappy and dystopian. Its dirty, polluted, tyrannical, and filled with crime. And covered in fungus. Apparently the writers took the name Mushroom Kingdom a bit literally, and decided that Dinohatten should be covered in fungus, which looks kind of like torn-up bedsheets made out of earwax. To make matters stranger, we eventually learn that the city-covering fungus is actually the mutated form of the kingdoms former ruler.
Iggy & Spike
Pretty much every Mario character in the movie gets rewritten and redesigned into something that in no way resembles its former self, but two of the most curious inclusions are Iggy and Spike, King Koopas top henchmen. Iggys role makes sense, since he was one of Bowsers kids in the games (well, before Nintendo retconned that fact), but instead of being paired up with one of his siblings (say, Lemmy or Larry), his partner is Spike, who was just a random froglike enemy in Super Mario Bros. 3. At any rate, in the movie both characters are just goofy-looking humans with severe intelligence deficiencies, and they happen to be King Koopas cousins.
Glug, glug, glug
The Mario Bros. dont really have a catchphrase, but in the movie, theres a few times when they decide its time to get down to business, give each other a high-five, fondle each others fingers, and proclaim, Glug, glug, glug, glug! We dont quite get it, but were pretty sure somebody (possibly everybody) involved with the movie was drinking something really good when they made it.
Out of all the characters redesigned for the movie, Big Bertha is probably the weirdest. In Super Mario Bros. 3, Big Bertha is a giant man-eating fish, but in the movie shes a burly, busty female bouncer with a penchant for red spikes who wears magical rocket boots. Oooooookay.
Sweet stash, bro... not!
Luigi fares better than most characters in the movie. Sure, hes pretty much a goof, but you could say the movie is really his story--Mario is kinda just along for the ride. At least hes likable, and hes basically the one that gets the girl. But the one thing we cant forgive is the distinct lack of his trademark mustache. Cmon--there are even games in which the bros are rated for their staches! Clearly this lack of stache is why Luigi has been playing second fiddle to Mario for the last two decades.
Lets Dance, part 1
In his games, Mario is known for defeating foes by squashing them flat. But in the movie, Mario conquers his foes through the power of dance. (Well, when hes not smashing their brains out with wrenches, anyway.) When the going gets tough, middle-aged Mario--wearing a leisure suit--sweeps Big Bertha off her feet in an attempt to retrieve a stolen pendant. Not only does Mario succeed in taking the pendant, but his sweet dance moves charm Big Bertha into becoming an ally. Also: during the dance, Mario sticks his face into Big Berthas cleavage.
You know Toad, right? The cheerful little guy with a mushroom on his head whos always there to tell Mario that the princess is in another castle? Well, he makes an appearance in the SMB movie, but not as the princesss loyal retainer. This time hes a street musician, hes a full-grown man, and in lieu of a mushroom hat he just has a really silly haircut. Much to Marios chagrin, this version of Toad sings the bros an awful song (Got no resources / In a great big stupor / All because of the evil King Koopa!), which causes him to get arrested and mutated into a Goomba.
Speaking of Goombas, it probably comes as no great shock that in this movie they in no way resemble the diminutive, waddling, brown, mushroom-or-chestnut-inspired creatures from the games. These Goombas are oversized humanoids sporting tiny little reptilian heads. Its bad enough that these Goombas are nothing like their in-game counterparts, but its even more irritating when you consider that the Mario series already has reptilian grunts--Koopa Troopas--that would have fit the design slightly better. (According to some reports, the characters were indeed originally intended to be Koopa Troopas, but were switched to Goombas sometime during production.)
Lets Dance, part 2
When Mario and Luigi invade King Koopas skyscraper to rescue Daisy, the brothers find themselves trapped in an elevator with evil Goombas. Fortunately the plumbers know just what to do: they start gently rocking the Goombas back and forth from behind, causing the big oafs to start dancing with each other and ignore the heroes. Maybe this is where the idea for DDR Mario Mix began to take shape.
A photorealistic Yoshi? You better believe it. You might think of Yoshi as Marios cute, cartoony dinosaur steed who swallows enemies and poops eggs, but in the movie he was a fairly realistic animatronic puppet that kinda resembled a miniature Tyrannosaurus Rex. Yoshi got off easier than most of the characters--at least he remained the same species, still used his super-long tongue as an offensive weapon, and even tried to consume one of his foes--but were betting he gave nightmares to at least a couple kids in the audience.
The Super Scope
A significant part of the movies plot deals with King Koopas de-evolution weapons, which he plans to use to invade our world and turn all of humanity into mindless beasts, or possibly puddles of primordial ooze. Whatever. Whats important is that these weapons are designed to look an awful lot like the Super Scope, the light-gun peripheral that Nintendo released for the Super NES in 1992. So if you have a Super Scope lying around in an old-game bin somewhere, make sure you dont accidentally use it to transform yourself into a mass of fungus.
Early in the movie Mario and Luigi arent fighting King Koopa. Their main rival is Anthony Scapelli, who is apparently so much better at business than the Mario Bros. that hes on the verge of driving the plumbers into bankruptcy. Hes also a big jerk with evident gangster ties, and hes got some major hate for Daisy since her archeological work is interfering with his construction plans. But by random chance during the movies finale, Mario and company wind up back in Brooklyn for a minute or two, giving Koopa the chance to accidentally devolve Scapelli into a monkey, which everybody watching finds hilarious. Harsh, man. Maybe he became the movies version of Donkey Kong?
Bob-Omb, the walking bomb enemy that first appeared in Super Mario Bros. 2, is surprisingly authentic in the movie. Its awfully small, sure, but otherwise its almost a dead ringer for the game version--a wind-up bomb with eyes and feet. The odd part, though? The Bob-Omb is wearing Reebok stickers on the soles of its feet. We suspect that somebody wants his product-placement money back.
We forgive the films big baddie for going by the name of King Koopa rather than Bowser, considering that Koopa has always been the characters name in Japan. We find it much harder, however, to reconcile his appearance (or his nonsensical plan to merge dimensions and conquer the world). Instead of a big, spiky turtle with flaming red hair, we get an old guy with blond cornrows. (No offense to Dennis Hopper.) Throughout the movie we see hints of Koopas game origins--his eyes and tongue briefly become reptilian, for example--and during the final confrontation with the bros, he even winds up in a dangling piece of construction equipment that kinda-sorta pays homage to his flying clown car from Super Mario World. At the films climax, Koopa transforms into a dinosauric monster reminiscent of his game character--but only for a second before Mario and Luigi kill him with his own de-evolution Super Scopes. We kinda pitied him at that point.
But wait, theres more!
Perhaps the strangest part of all comes in the closing scenes of the movie. After Mario and Luigi have resumed their normal lives, Daisy suddenly returns, dressed in quasi-military gear, telling the Mario Bros. that theres big trouble and she needs their help. That alone isnt too weird, but the implication is that someone, perhaps, believed that the movie would be popular enough to warrant a sequel. Yikes!
Mario and Luigi may be gaming icons, but their debut on the silver screen--which was a critical and financial flop--left a lot to be desired. If you dont believe us, you can always celebrate the movies 20th anniversary by hunting down a DVD and watching if for yourself, but dont say we didnt warn you!