It’s that time of the week again, folks! That time when we here at The Arcade take a break from all that fine, stimulating masterwork floating around the film industry and dive deep into the depths of what should never be viewed. This week, we watched the classic Super Mario Bros., the film which is renowned for scaring Nintendo away from the film industry for the rest of their lives. I’m not kidding on this one, this movie is so bad that only recently has Nintendo even considered letting their characters have an on-screen adaption, 22 years after Super Mario Bros. was released. A quick note for any Mario fans reading this: if you were looking for an on-screen adaption of your favourite game, this isn’t it! It’s a convoluted mess that kinda, sorta, not really resembles characters from the game, and the closest it comes to the game is that it’s using the theme music in the opening. But don’t take my word for it just yet, let’s just take a look at the plot of this masterpiece, shall we?
Super Mario Bros. begins telling us that long ago, the dinosaurs roamed free and happy before the famed meteor that wiped them all out crash landed into earth. However, instead of wiping the dinosaurs out, they were teleported to a parallel dimension right beside our own where they had to live and evolve like humans, all the while looking for a way to make it back into our realm. We’re not even 2 minutes into this movie and I already need more rum to wash down that stretch of the imagination, but let’s not dwell! And so, on a dark and stormy night, a woman from the dinosaur dimension is seen leaving an egg on the doorstep of a church to be collected by nuns. Let’s also ignore how someone from a dino realm knew that the church doorstep is where we leave children for dramatic effect. Shortly after being brought inside, the egg hatches to reveal a beautiful baby girl, with all the nuns cooing at their new precious bundle of joy instead of screaming in terror at the fact they just witnessed a child being hatched.
Fast forward 20 years and we’re taken to the New York home of Mario Mario and his brother Luigi Mario, where the famous duo have fallen on hard times. They’re three months behind on rent and the plumbers just can’t seem to find a job without their rivals, the Scapelli family, getting there first. Meanwhile, a young archaeologist named Daisy struggles to keep Scapelli construction crews off her dig site, and bumps into the brothers while trying to get her university to send some help. Of course, it’s love at first sight when Luigi sees Daisy and, with the help of his brother, he eventually manages to ask Daisy out to dinner, unknowing that Daisy is actually being stalked by two goons working for the evil King Koopa in the other realm. During their date, the goons attempt to kidnap Daisy and take her back to the Koopa realm, but only after she and the Mario brothers try to save the dig site from flooding and Mario has to do some actual plumbing for the first time in his history. Shockingly, the portal to the Koopa realm is right under Daisy’s dig site so, after following the goons and a screaming Daisy down the tunnels, they find the portal and are transported into a dystopian society, wherein the evil King Koopa rules with an iron fist, the entire city is being devoured by a fungus and there’s apparently an election going on. Every other shot contains a poster saying ‘Vote Koopa’ and that leads me to believe that nobody knows how a monarchy works in this world.
What follows is a long, convoluted jump from thread to thread in which Mario and Luigi try to rescue Daisy before Koopa can merge his dimension with ours with the help of Daisy and her meteorite necklace. Honestly, I would attempt to make some sort of summary of the rest of the film, but it’s literally just too convoluted to try. My brain began to melt out of my ears somewhere around the scene where Koopa ordered a pizza topped with dino parts in the midst of his world takeover. This film is filled with scenes like this, as the makers try desperately to get a laugh out of you before jumping to the next non-sensical plot point. But there are no laughs to be found, just bewilderment and more padding to the plot than you’d find in a mattress.
Maybe you’re wondering if the characters are at least lovable enough to redeem it in some sort of sense of nostalgia. No! Toad is a street musician singing anti-Koopa propaganda and Big Bertha is a bouncer at a night club who has to be seduced by Mario; any resemblance to a character you recognise is purely coincidental. Literally the only redeeming point is that Yoshi is still adorable but, at one point in the movie, they literally stab him! I have seen a great many bad video game movies, but never have I seen one so impossibly removed from the original subject matter. I mean for crying out loud, they have Mario doing actual plumbing at one point! Have you ever once seen Mario do any plumbing?! NO! He just jumps around on people’s heads and does a terrible job of keeping Peach safe!
This film isn’t even suitable for the children that were no doubt meant to be the target audience. Despite the nonsensical plot, the mismatched, overbearing soundtrack and the bright colours everywhere, I wouldn’t in my wildest dreams show this to kids. I don’t know about you, but kids movies, even in the 90s, shouldn’t contain smoking, a woman being electrocuted and an entire sequence of jumping through flame throwers and crashing cars all while the main characters scream “This is fun!” That, my friends, gets you a lawsuit!
And for all this trouble, is there even any pay off in the end? Nope! No, Koopa gets turned into primordial ooze by a B-bomb wearing Reeboks, the fungus turns out to be the king, who magically turns back into a human with no help whatsoever, and Daisy decides to stay in her new kingdom to help her people with a worldwide drought while Mario and Luigi go back to Brooklyn. But wait, there’s more! Apparently they thought they’d get a sequel…