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In 1993, Lightmotive made a Live Action Adaptation out of Super Mario Bros., which was later bought by Disney under Jeffrey Katzenberg's (now of DreamWorks) direction. To many, it either sucks big-time, or it's the quirkiest "adaptation" of the Mario canon.
Mario Mario (Bob Hoskins) and his younger brother Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo) are Italian-American plumbers trying hard to earn a living in Brooklyn. A run-in with Daisy, an archeology student in her 20s, has Luigi very interested and the two quickly bond. However, all their lives are turned upside-down when Daisy, as well as Mario's girlfriend Daniella, are kidnapped and taken through a mysterious portal in Daisy's dig site after it's sabotaged by rival plumbers from the Scarpelli corporation, which is looking to build there.
The portal leads to an parallel world where reptiles, instead of mammals, evolved into people and became the dominant species on the planet. The alternate world is mostly barren wastelands, except for New York, which appears as a dark and dystopian version of itself, run by the despotic President Koopa and further besieged by a mysterious fungus. Attempting to rescue Daisy and Daniella, the Mario brothers end up going on a crazy adventure through every tier of this "Mushroom Kingdom" and eventually realize it's up to them to stop the whole world from going down the drain!
Goofy, camp, grittier than the games, and appropriately saturated with The Nineties, good performances from all the leads, particularly Hoskins, save a ridiculous adaptation of brilliant but nearly unadaptable source material. See Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive for the largest fansite and community devoted to the movie for more information on the film's development.
The Super Mario Bros. movie provides examples of:
- 555: Averted. There is a scene in the film where Big Bad Koopa has ordered a wanted poster of the plumbers posted all over the underworld, with an 800 number to call if they are spotted. The thing is, the number is a legitimate toll-free number in the US, and if you call it, it's now a phone sex hotline.
- Played straight with the brothers van.
- Adaptation Expansion: To be fair, as this movie was being written, the Super Mario Bros. series didn't have much story or defined personalities for the characters outside of the various cartoon series or somewhat obscure comics. Because of this the writers decided to write the story from the angle of a prequel, exploring how the Mario Bros. became the Super Mario Bros. In the process Mario and Luigi were given an older brother/younger brother dynamic/conflict and Koopa was provided a motivation for needing the Princess.
- The Alleged Car: The Mario Bros. van.
- All There in the Script: Various scripted plot points were likely never shot, including the reason why Daisy is the only one that can merge the dimensions: she is the sole survivor of the Portal-Keepers, an esoteric society mutated by the meteorite's radiation.
- And I Must Scream: The King apparently spent around twenty years as a formless mass of fungus, but was still sentient and conscious through it all.
- Animated Credits Opening: Partially. The movie opens with a weird, pixelated artstyle that shifts into live-action after the dinosaurs express their contentment with life. This was due to Executive Meddling as the producers felt test audiences weren't getting the concept of the parallel dimensions and needed it spelled out. The idea was to have graphics reminiscent of the games but they opted for a cheaper and faster route.
- Bait and Switch: The movie opens with the iconic overworld theme from the original, but then shows scenes very different from the games's art style, establishing the In Name Only feeling.
- Big Applesauce: Mario & Luigi live in New York.
- Body Horror: The fate of Daisy's father.
- And Toad, who is forcibly turned into a Goomba.
- Brooklyn Rage: From Mario. Luigi is considerably more mellow.
- Card-Carrying Villain / Exact Words: When Mario and Luigi meet up with their "attorney," the attorney tells them that they don't want to meet Koopa, as "one evil, egg-sucking son of a snake." When it is revealed that Koopa was the person who acted as their attorney, Luigi expresses shock, to which Koopa then repeats the above description, and then says "Did I lie?"
- The Cameo: Lance Henriksen loves those plumbers, man.
- Canon Foreigner: Anthony Scarpelli and Lena. And Mario's girlfriend Daniella (who was based on Pauline.)
- The Citizen Kane of Shark Movies: With the Video Game Movies Suck trope now in full force, people are far m,ore receptive of this than when it first come out, since, while not good per se, it's much better than most video game movies that came after.
- Composite Character: Princess Peach's personality and looks with Daisy's name, done because the writers felt "Toadstool" (the only other name available at the time) was "just weird".
- Clipped-Wing Angel: Koopa is de-evolved into a T-rex near the end, but easily de-evolved further into primordial slime.
- Crapsack World: This is what happens when Blade Runner's setting is on shrooms.
- Darker and Edgier: The "Mushroom Kingdom" is a Blade Runner-esque dystopia being slowly overtaken by sentient fungus. Goombas and Koopas are seven-foot-tall reptilian humanoids with tiny heads, and industrial-looking guns that shoot huge balls of fire are the film's answer to the Fire Flower.
- Deleted Scene: Nearly 30 minutes of footage was cut to get the movie down to a proper running time. Deleted scenes include:
- An extended sequence of Koopa chasing Daisy's mother in New York, which featured him gazing admiringly at the buildings which would later inspire his warped construction projects in Dinohattan.
- Mario and Luigi actually confronting the "Scarpelli Bros.", Mike and Doug, in the River Front Cafe. They threaten the cafe's owner, Pascal, by using their bosses' name. Pascal takes Mario aside and offers him and Luigi a free lunch to make it up to them, which leads to:
- An alternate scene of Mario and Luigi eating. Daisy enters the cafe and uses the payphone inside, slipping on a wet floor as she leaves. Luigi catches her and the movie continues that way.
- Mario and Luigi getting ready for their dinner date, during which Luigi expresses embarrassment at being a plumber. Mario chastises him and tells him he has no "family pride."
- An extended sequence in the de-evolution chamber, during which one of the devo technicians is de-evolved into slime. A puddle can still be seen on the floor in the final film.
- Iggy and Spike get drunk at the Boom Boom Bar and rap, which is referenced later by Lena as them "preaching your overthrow."
- Various assorted scenes, including additional sequences from the cut "family pride" subplot.
- Delusions of Eloquence: Iggy and Spike.
- Depraved Bisexual: Lena, according to Word of God.
- Devolution Device: Koopa's Devo-Chamber, which he uses to create his Goombas. Near the end of the film, portable gun versions were created, which Koopa tests on Scarpelli, turning him into a monkey.
- Disaster Dominoes: Minor example. When the Goombas are distracted by Toad's harmonica playing, a frustrated Koopa punches one, causing the expected chain reaction.
- Door Step Baby: Daisy.
- Dull Surprise: "Bob-omb!?"
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Dinosaurs popularity with children in the '90s is thought to be the reason they were so integrated into the setting.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Koopa turns minor antagonist Anthony Scarpelli into one.
Koopa (smiling): Monkey!
- Evil Brit: Lena. At the very least, she's portrayed by a Brit.
- Evil Is Dumb: Iggy and Spike, after being made smarter through forced evolution, eventually join up with the Mario Brothers instead. It's implied from their statement to Lena about being her father's most loyal supporters that their stupidity was probably the result of brainwashing by King Koopa.
- Evolutionary Levels: The technology with which Koopa "evolves" or "de-evolves" both kinds of humans in the film. This technology was later weaponized as portable guns.
- Interestingly, the shooting script for the movie avoids this by explaining that the technology doesn't reverse the evolutionary process , it's just a standard Transformation Ray that forcibly mutated (or, evolved) beings by triggering latent genes. Separate settings were meant to effect either an organism's physical or intellectual state.
- Expy: Daniella is based on Mario's first girlfriend Pauline, which is made even more obvious in the script, which reveals that Daniella's full name is "Daniella Pauline Verducci".
- Fakin' MacGuffin: Mario decides to bluff Koopa into thinking he has the meteorite necklace so Luigi has time to get the real one.
- Fantastic Racism: Man, Koopa just cannot let that mammal thing go.
- Fate Worse than Death: Iggy and Spike imply they will suffer from this if they end up getting the wrong girl yet again. Specifically, when lamenting Koopa will kill them if they get the wrong girl yet again, the other counters that he wouldn't kill them as "[Koopa's] not that nice."
- Foe Yay: It's possible to see some between Lena and Daisy.
- Fungus Humongous: Taken to a literal level.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Lena.
- Heel Face Turn: Iggy and Spike.
- They claimed to have always been the royal family's "loyal supporters", but who knows if it's true.
- He's Got a Weapon!: "It's a BOB-OMB!" "HE'S GOT A BOB-OMB!"
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Koopa is defeated with his own devo guns.
- Also, Lena ends up literally fossilized by the very power she tried to use to merge dimensions.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Between Koopa and Daisy, though Lena gets in on it a bit as well.
- If Jesus, Then Aliens
- In Name Only
- Jump Scare: A surprisingly effective one when the Tyrannosaurus lunges out.
- Large Ham: Come on. Koopa is played by Dennis Hopper. Did we expect anything less?
- Fiona Shaw's performance as Lena is pretty cold and understated... until she's trying to merge the dimensions. Then she reaches Rita Repulsa levels of hamminess.
- Looping Lines: According to the post-production supervisor, Super Mario Bros. had the most ADR-looping of any film she had ever encountered.
- Lost World: It's implied that dinosaurs have escaped from the parallel dimension into our world and humans into theirs throughout history.
- Mage in Manhattan
- Mook Lieutenant: Sergeant Simon, who first appears to be just a random Dinohattan desk sergeant but is given increasingly more important duties.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Brief moment when Simon passes another cop in the hallway, who raises his arm in a salute and says "Hail Koopa."
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Koopa had his cousins neurologically evolved in order to give them a better track record of retrieving the Mario Bros. and the meteorite. This arguably hastens his downfall as it ultimately causes his cousins to revolt against him.
- No Ontological Inertia: The King suddenly turns back to normal without the need of re-evolution as soon as Koopa is defeated.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: The de-evolution guns are just Super Scopes (the SNES' light gun) painted black.
- Orphan's Plot Trinket: Princess Daisy wears a meteorite fragment around her neck that she never takes off since it was the only thing left with her when she was left in the human world. The meteorite fragment is the one thing Koopa needs to orchestrate his takeover of our world. Earlier scripts indicate the metallic egg was also necessary for Koopa's plan to merge the dimensions.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: One of the few Mario media that averts it and shows Mario and Luigi actually plumbing.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: If you are going to adapt source material that cannot be adapted, then this is necessary.
- Product Placement: The Bob-Omb has the Reebok logo on the bottom of its feet.
- Promoted to Love Interest: Luigi and Daisy
- Promotion to Parent: Was apparently the case with Mario and Luigi. Mario, being the older brother, having looked after Luigi since he was young.
Luigi: Mario here brought me up. He's been my mother my whole life.
- Railing Kill: Played straight, anytime a person is looking away from the railing, they're likely to fall over it for some reason.
- Repetitive Name: Mario Mario (explaining why they're the Mario brothers).
- The earlier cartoon series and some other areas, such as the Nintendo Power magazine, also stated this to be their mutual last name. This does not extend to the actual game canon, though.
- Ret Canon: Luigi and Daisy as a couple; Daisy's only game appearance prior was in Super Mario Land, where Mario rescued her. Mario Tennis reintroduced her as Luigi's partner.
- Running Gag: Koopa ordering pizza, which culminated in a cut scene of the delivery boy dancing on Koopa's de-evolved slime.
- Luigi going the wrong way.
- Sequel Hook: Daisy dressed as Ripley. According to writer Parker Bennett, this was literally lifted from Back to The Future.
- Shout-Out: Tons to the games, although a lot of them are awkward and minimal. The barrels of the "Fry Guy" flamethrower guns look vaguely like red flower petals while they are obviously named after the enemy. The cartridges which power the jump-boots (themselves a reference to the Bros.' incredible jumping ability in the games and visually modeled after Thwomps) resemble Bullet Bills.
- A bar is called "Rex". A guy is selling Tweeters in hot dog buns.
- Smelly Skunk: A skunk appears in the brief animated portion of opening credits for no reason.
- Sssssnaketalk: Koopa and oddly, only in his first scene.
- Spikes of Doom: The hallways of Koopa's tower are lined with these.
- Dinohattan's inhabitants wear these as part of their clothing.
- The Starscream: Lena eventually became one of these nearing the second half of the film, when, after a failed attempt to get Koopa to reconsider focusing on Daisy, by deciding to achieve her goals to her end with the meteorite. Koopa caught on to it after she made the mistake of ordering the invasion under Koopa's word, but managed to retrieve the meteorite anyways after it was taken back.
- The Stinger: A Japanese video game company is interested in producing something about... Iggy and Spike.
- Stripperiffic: Some of Lena's outfits, as well as dancers at the Boom Boom bar in a scene that was cut from theatrical release. You can still see them in the background in some scenes. Also check out Joseph Porro's early costume designs.
- Super Soldier: Koopa was attempting to create a new breed of soldiers by transforming the denizens of his universe into exaggerated mutations of their ancestral DNA.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Iggy and Spike.
- Transformation Sequence: Kind of. After spending the first 2/3 of the movie wearing various outfits that have nothing to do with their traditional video game appearance, the Mario Brothers find red/blue and green/blue jumpsuits in a maintenance locker, followed by a dramatic reveal shot of them in costume, complete with caps and jump-boots.
- Two Words: Obvious Trope: Mario uses this trope to emphasize "IM-POSSIBLE."
- Vanilla Edition: The movie has only had three releases in the United States: one on VHS and two on DVD. The first DVD was released in 2003 and features nothing other than the movie and a horrible transfer that touts widescreen, but is actually a chopped fullscreen. The second DVD release came in 2010 and is the same exact movie, just with the logos re-arranged on the packaging.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: Toad gets himself arrested for singing one.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Koopa
Koopa: What I care about, is the future of our species!
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Quite a few important plot threads are left unresolved and would have been Left Hanging had they not been put on the sidelines by numerous script rewrites and reshoots. Namely, the parallel world is still slowly dying from lack of clean, renewable resources, Toad and innumerable prisoners are still de-evolved, and rival plumbers Mike and Doug never get their comeuppance. The King remaining a citywide fungus would have been this had Lance Henriksen not cameoed in a reshoot where his character returns to human form after Koopa's defeat.
- Never revealed whether or not Scapelli changed back to human.
- Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In The Stinger.
- Woody's Finest Hour: The film obviously left room for a sequel in the ending. Unfortunately, any plans for a sequel were all but cancelled due to the bad reviews and sales for the movie.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Despite Luigi, Daisy, and the Brooklyn girls chasing Lena, none of them do a thing to stop her from trying to merge the dimensions.
- You Have Failed Me: Inverted with Spike and Iggy. After one failure too many, Koopa seemingly is about to de-evolve them, but he really intended to evolve them, or at least their intelligence to give them much better chances at locating the then-recently escaped Mario Bros. and the meteorite shard. Koopa DID promise to play the trope fully straight if they failed him yet again, however.