The Super Mario Bros. movie feels like watching a film about a drug trip while on a drug trip. It was released in 1993, after some of the best NES games like Super Mario Bros. 3 swept the States. On paper, a live-action film based on the then-best selling media title of all time starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper seemed like a great idea. Unfortunately, poor execution, terrible production, and a lack of understanding of what makes Mario awesome led to a trainwreck of a movie.
When you consider the source material is a game where an Italian plumber tries to save a princess who is kidnapped by a giant lizard, it's understandable that a film adaptation would seriously struggle. You'd have to make considerable changes to the plot to make a live-action work, right? Well, to offset the non-canonical script, producers wanted the set to be very flashy and futuristic, so they hired the husband-wife team of Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel of Max Headroom fame to direct.
To be frank, if you ever watch this crazy Super Mario Bros. movie, you'll think you're on drugs (or wish you were). Read on below to discover the hilarious and idiotic aspects of this terrible endeavor that sought to bring the beloved Italian plumber to the big screen.
Right from the opening scene, this film is chock-full of crazy sh*t. It starts off with an 8-bit scene with terrible graphics (even for 1993 standards). It features two dinosaurs with New York accents talking to one another. Apparently, the meteorite that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct hit Brooklyn 65 million years ago. Mario sets the scene for this 100-minute drug trip with a voiceover narration.
Less than two minutes into the movie, this drug trip gets real. Mario asks viewers the question:
"What if the impact of that meteorite [that caused the dinosaurs to become extinct] created a parallel dimension where the dinosaurs continued the thrive and evolve into intelligent, vicious, impressive beings, just like us? And what if they found a way back?"
That "way back" is an inter-dimensional portal controlled by a small, missing fragment of the meteorite, that belongs to Princess Daisy. That's right. Princess Daisy, not Princess Peach.
Given how the movie turned out, it's crazy to think that Hollywood producers thought the Super Mario Bros. was going to be a hit. They even signed Tom Hanks to play Mario, but later fired him because he was too expensive. They approached Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger to play a role in the film, but they declined. Eventually, they went with Bob Hoskins.
Rocky Morton, one of the directors for the movie, claims the script was rewritten multiple times. No one seemed to have a solid idea or vision for the film as the deadline came closer. They wanted it to be dark and set in a dystopian world, so they started planning an action film similar to Die Hard. The script even had "a scene in which Bruce Willis could make a cameo, scurrying through the air ducts above King Koopa’s office."
This idea was scrapped for a new script that contained "Mad Max-style death races." For some reason, the directors (husband and wife, Morton and Jankel) thought that the movie had to be set in a dark, cyberpunk world with dinosaurs who hated humanity. They refused to budge on the premise that Mario would take a portal to the alternative universe where humans evolved from dinosaurs (re-read that as many times as you need for it to make sense). Seriously? These directors land the gig for one of the most recognizable games of their time and don't even bother to play a Mario game before making the movies? You know, with the colorful worlds, chipper music, and happy fantasy vibe? Like, WTF.