Retro Review: Super Mario Bros

Mario Mario and Luigi Mario not only traverse through multiple kingdoms, worlds and galaxies on various Nintendo games to save an ever elusive (and repeatedly kidnapped) princess, but they also made their big screen debut in an epic adventure to save a kidnapped princess.

“Super Mario Bros.” (1993) stars Bob Hoskins (“Will”) as Mario and John Leguizamo (“The Lincoln Lawyer”) as his younger brother Luigi, two Italian-American plumbers living in Brooklyn. After a chance encounter and then a date with an NYU student named Daisy, Luigi and Mario get stuck in another dimension while trying to save her from King Koopa’s (Dennis Hopper “Alpha and Omega”) henchmen. It seems that Daisy is the missing princess of “Dinohattan,” that world, and King Koopa needs her to realize his plans of merging the human world with their own, and it’s up to Mario and Luigi to save the princess and maintain the boundaries between their worlds.

Despite sounding like a plausible scenario for the brothers to find themselves in, the inconsistencies between the games and the movie are enough to bother those with reverence for the franchise.

The story isn’t about Mario and Peach; it is about Luigi and Daisy. The main villain isn’t Bowser, it’s King Koopa. Daisy hasn’t grown up a princess, she’s grown up as an abandoned orphan with a love of studying dinosaurs (who later discovers that she’s a princess). Mario doesn’t even have a girlfriend named Peach; the love of his life is a fellow New Yorker named Daniella (who also gets kidnapped – just for good measure). Everything important to Mario-lore is completely ignored except for the brothers’ iconic costumes and bob-oms, and even they don’t come into the film until near the end.

To be fair, as a film, “Super mario Bros.” is decent. It’s charming, unique, funny and the special effects are quality for the early 90s. As a film the carries the esteemed name of Mario in its title, it’s less than pleasing.

In its favor, “Super Mario Bros.” boasts the acting talents of Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. Leguizamo especially was a treat to watch on screen; his awkward boyish attitude could even be called sweet, and he was immersed in his role enough that Luigi’s infatuation with Daisy is very believable. Similarly, Hoskins played the role of practical and protective older brother to a ‘T.’ While this version of Mario doesn’t reflect the well-loved character well, Hoskins made the role his own, adding attitude and wit to Mario that fans might enjoy. He also visibly grows as a character, starting the movie off a little stingy and very ‘by the book,’ and ending it as a more trusting individual who believes in his younger brother and is ready to dive head first into whatever trouble shows up next.

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See the movie at least once, but bear in mind that it isn’t the “Mario” of pop culture, and it might be enjoyable.