The First Super Mario Bros Movie

Apr 8, 2023

30 Years Ago A New Movie Genre Was Created

Released in 1993, “Super Mario Bros” was the first movie based on a video game. Unfortunately, its popularity as a Nintendo game failed to translate into box office success. As the years have passed it’s developed into something of a cult classic, but its principal claim to fame remains being the first game to movie crossover.  

The film’s off-beat humor, bizarre character designs, and memorable performances have endeared it to a generation of viewers who grew up playing the classic Nintendo games. It’s popularity is a testament to the power of nostalgia and the enduring appeal of the Mario universe – also being the first in a new genre of films.

Cast and Crew of Super Mario Bros

The film was directed by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, and starred Bob Hoskins as Mario, John Leguizamo as Luigi, Dennis Hopper as King Koopa, and Samantha Mathis as Princess Daisy in lead roles. 

Plot and Storyline

The film takes place in a parallel dimension known as Dinohattan, where the evil dictator King Koopa (Dennis Hopper) has taken over and plans to merge his world with the human world to create a new world where he’ll reign supreme. Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi (John Leguizamo) are two Brooklyn plumbers who accidentally get transported to Dinohattan through a portal while trying to save Princess Daisy (Samantha Mathis), a paleontologist who has discovered a mysterious artifact.

The storyline of the film is a bit convoluted and confusing at times, with many plot points and characters being underdeveloped or outright ignored. The film’s attempts to adapt the video game series’ unique aesthetic and quirky humor was better in theory than execution, resulting in a disjointed and often tonally inconsistent film. Despite its shortcomings, the film’s strong cast helps to elevate the material and make it a fun, if flawed, ride.

While the film’s storyline and pacing may be uneven, it does feature a number of memorable moments and set pieces. One of the film’s most memorable scenes features Mario and Luigi traveling through a nightclub that resembles a giant goomba, complete with dancing goomba backup dancers. 

Strong Performances Make it Tolerable

Bob Hoskins delivers a standout performance as Mario, bringing a gruff charm and everyman quality to the character. John Leguizamo is equally enjoyable as Luigi, playing the character as a lovable goofball with a heart of gold. Dennis Hopper, can be over-the-top and hammy, is nonetheless entertaining as the villainous King Koopa. Unfortunately, Samantha Mathis is given little to do as Princess Daisy resulting in missed opportunities and one of the film’s flaws. 

On Set Troubles

The film’s legacy has been boosted by the stories of its troubled production, with reports of on-set tension and creative differences between the directors and the studio executives. Oftentimes groundbreaking efforts suffer for being too different from the formula decision makers are accustomed to. 

Production Design and Visual Effects

One of the film’s strengths is its production design, with Dinohattan being brought to life through practical effects and elaborate set pieces. The film’s use of animatronics and puppetry for its dinosaur characters is impressive, and the attention to detail in creating the world of Dinohattan is commendable. The film’s climax, which takes place in a tower that is slowly merging the human and dinosaur worlds together, is also visually impressive and features some impressive practical effects.

Despite being novel at the time, the film’s visual effects have not aged well, looking dated and awkward by modern standards.

Super Mario Bros Super Soundtrack

One of the film’s most notable features is its soundtrack, which was composed by Alan Silvestri. The film’s main theme is a catchy and memorable tune that has since become synonymous with the Mario franchise. The soundtrack also features a number of other memorable tracks, including the hauntingly beautiful “Lena’s Theme”. The film’s score is one of its strongest aspects and adds to the film’s overall atmosphere and tone.

Concluding Thoughts

Despite its many flaws, “Super Mario Bros” has grown into a cult classic among fans of the video game series. The film’s attempts to create a unique and interesting world within the Mario universe are admirable, and the film’s campy charm and memorable performances make it a fun watch for those who can overlook its shortcomings. While it may not be a cinematic masterpiece, the film’s quirky humor, unique aesthetic, and memorable performances can make it a fun watch for those looking for some mid nineties nostalgic entertainment.

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