If you have an opinion at all about the Super Mario Bros. movie, it’s either that you completely hate it, or you completely love it. There’s no middle road for this 1993 comedy adventure classic starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper. This is understandable for many reasons. Die hard fans of any made-into-a-movie property are going to feel passionately about it one way or the other. You want to see the movie version of the thing you love “done right”. The problem is video game movies are notorious for “getting it wrong”.
This is not my school of thought, however. I believe that you have to look at the source material of any property that’s been made into a movie, or another form of media besides it’s original, as something completely different (and honestly, I think the same goes for remakes and reboots as well).
Just because the newest version of your favorite movie, comic, or video game, changed in it’s reinterpretation doesn’t mean it ruined your childhood. Just because it isn’t exactly what you had in mind, doesn’t mean it’s not an awesome experience in and of itself.
This brings me to Super Mario Bros.
This movie has all of the perfect, weird makings of a great, early 90s, adventure movie. The premise that they… ended up with, was Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi (John Leguizamo) have to save Daisy (Samantha Mathis) from the evil King Koopa (Dennis Hopper). Daisy gets kidnapped by a couple of Koopa’s goons and taken through an inter-dimensional portal to a where the humanoid beings are descended from dinosaurs instead of apes. Mario and Luigi follow them through the portal and, naturally, get up to all sorts of high jinks.
The world that’s set up in the movie looks and acts exactly like a post-apocolyptic/future dystopian movie world. It feels like Bladerunner meets Mad Max meets Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (In fact the 1990 TMNT movie would be a great double feature with Super Mario Bros.). There’s retrofitted technology and strange, otherworldly customs that the Mario brothers must navigate, and which are the cause of any given comedic moment in the movie.
The action sequences are also so classically 90s too. There is minimal CGI so the majority of stunts and special effects are practical. If you replace the SciFi metropolis setting with 1930s Egypt, you’d basically have Indiana Jones. Alls I’m sayin is no one complains about the Indiana Jones video games ruining the movies…
I really enjoy the nods to the original source material. I liked how Mario’s super human jumping ability in the games is done with powered jumping boots in the movie. I like the little wind-up Bob-omb, and the fact that mushrooms are growing everywhere. I like the little easter eggs from the games like a sign in the background that says “Bullet Bills”. I like that it’s not a perfect interpretation of the Super Mario games.
If you want to watch a movie with a ridiculous, fun plot and ridiculous, fun action, Super Mario Bros. is the movie for you.