Super Mario Bros: 27 Things You Probably Forgot About The '90s Movie Adaptation
Live action fever dream Super Mario Bros may be one of the best-worst movies of all time. How well do you remember it?
In the pantheon of bad movies, the live action Super Mario Bros stands out as a special sort of awful. From its absolutely nonsensical plot to its baffling choices in adapting one of the most popular video game franchises in the world, there isn't much about the movie that can be redeemed in a purely cinematic sense--but here in 2020, 27 years after the movie's release, we can appreciate it for the cult classic it is.
Does it make any sense at all? Absolutely not. Do we find ourselves constantly questioning our own sanity as we try and process what we've watched to write about it? Of course. Is it all worth it anyway? Debatable. But here we are, regardless. And to make matters even more bizarre, there are currently no ways to stream or purchase the movie digitally in the US. If you're hungry for a rewatch, you'll have to dust off your DVD player and find a copy--or, you could search out a clandestine copy uploaded to a video sharing website like Vimeo. Just a little suggestion. Either way, the lack of accessibility really ups the movie's fever-dream-like aesthetic, which can be either a feature or a bug, depending on who you ask.
So, without further ado, we present 27 things that definitely, actually, really happened in the Super Mario Bros movie, ranging from Nintendo Easter eggs to absolutely inscrutable lines of dialogue and everything in between.
1. University Students Digging For Dinosaur Bones In Brooklyn
This is far from the most absurd thing to happen in this movie and, sure, both the economy and the college experience were very different back in the early '90s, but the concept of a group of university students running a full-on archeological dig in New York City seems pretty wild even by those standards when you think about it for a second. And yet, it's somehow the cornerstone of the movie's plot. Without Daisy and her New York dinosaurs, none of this would have happened.
2. DeVito, Schwarzenegger, Keaton, and Hanks
Apparently Danny DeVito was not only offered the role of Mario, but a shot at directing the movie. Both Michael Keaton and Arnold Schwarzenegger were offered the role of Koopa, and Tom Hanks was approached to play Luigi, according to this 2018 retrospective.
3. World 1
Super Mario Bros is the first ever Hollywood film to be based on a specific video game. Thankfully, it was not the last.
4. Princess Daisy
Which, of course, brings us to the first real "Easter Egg" if it could be called that--Daisy, played by Samantha Mathis, is supposed to be Princess Daisy, who was introduced back in Super Mario Land in 1989. She was designed to be Luigi's answer to Princess Peach though they don't have any canonical romance plots through their games together. The romance is definitely present in the movie, however, so, hey, at least there's that.
5. Daisy's Egg
No, you're not hallucinating. According to the worldbuilding of the Mario Bros movie, Daisy--and, consequently, anyone descended from dinosaurs--was born from an egg. Apparently no one at the monastery she was abandoned at thought this was odd, so it did not make the news.
6. Mario Mario and Luigi Mario
At the time of the movie's release, neither Mario nor Luigi had official last names, so the "Mario Mario" and "Luigi Mario" line was a gag--but, in 2015 for the Super Mario Bros 30th anniversary, Shigeru Miyamoto "confirmed" that Mario's full name was--you guessed it--Mario Mario. We love a movie with major cultural impact.
7. Hand-Held De-Evolution Guns
Koopa's patented Hand-Held De-Evolution Guns are actually just repainted Nintendo Super Scopes, an actual peripheral available for Nintendo systems.
8. Thwomp Stompers
Thwomps are those giant stone enemies with furious faces that like to crush Mario when given the chance in the games. In the movie, their name was borrowed for a brand of rocket boots called Thwomp Stompers which allow people to pull off something vaguely similar to video game Mario's double jump.
9. Bullet Bill's
In the games, Bullet Bills are bullet-shaped enemies that are shot out by turtle canons. In the movie, Bullet Bill's is the name of a Dinohattan bar. Interestingly, the cartridges that power the Thwomp Stomper boots actually look like game-style Bullet Bills.
10. I Was A Teenage Mammal
One of the movie titles visible on a background marquee in Dinohattan is "I Was A Teenage Mammal," a reference to the 1957 horror movie I Was A Teenage Werewolf.
11. Plumber alert
Upon realizing that Mario and Luigi have crossed into the alternate dimension, Koopa issues a "Plumber alert" for the kingdom, which everyone reacts to as if this is not only a fairly common occurrence, but a regular alert that goes out in the city. It's certainly a gag, but it's played so deadpan it really does feel like renegade plumbers are just a known issue.
Movie Toad is, uh, nothing like Toad from the video games. And that's putting it lightly. Though we have to admit we wouldn't be mad if real Toad were given a harmonica and made to write folksy protest songs.
The fungus keeps offering Luigi and Mario miniature Bob-Ombs that look exactly the way they do in the games--though they obviously don't function the same. In the movie, a Bob-Omb is basically a mini warhead. Everyone in Dinohattan completely freaks out the moment they see one.
14. Smart Stooges
The only two characters with anything resembling real "arcs" in the movie are Iggy and Spike, who go from bumbling idiots bent on one-upping each other to earn Koopa's praise to weirdly overblown geniuses care of Koopa's evolution technology. They have a change of heart and go on to help Mario and Luigi get Daisy back. Apparently, in a deleted scene, the two of them used their newly empowered brains to perform an anti-Koopa rap at the Boom Boom Bar.
15. Yoshi the Animatronic
The movie's Yoshi may bear little to no resemblance to the Yoshi we know and love from the games, but the animatronic used in the movie was seriously impressive and entirely practical. You can check out a behind the scenes interview with a closer look at the technology that went into the little guy on YouTube.
16. "They never forget the first time they're kissed by a lizard"
A completely real line of dialogue that is played completely straight by Dennis Hopper, bless his heart: "You know what they say about little girls, don't you? They say they never forget the first time they're kissed by a lizard."
Excuse me, what? Who says that???
17. The Club Scene
After Mario, Luigi, Iggy, and Spike team up, they head to one of Koopa's night clubs in some absolutely incredible costumes--specifically Mario in a solid red suit and Luigi in solid yellow. There's even a throwaway line about how the clothes used to belong to Spike's ex-wife, which is certainly a choice. And that is to say nothing about Mario seducing a woman to get her necklace by asking her to punch him repeatedly.
18. Everybody Walk The Dinosaur
Believe it or not, the song "Walk The Dinosaur" by Was (Not Was), wasn't written for this movie. It was released in 1987, which implies that Dinohattan is somehow getting real life music transported between dimensions.
19. Lena's Worm Drink
For some reason, when Lena takes a shot with a worm floating in it, the movie added a dialogue effect to make it sound like the worm was sentient and trying not to be eaten. Why? We have absolutely no idea.
20. Python Pizza
Koopa has a Koopa Special order at a chain restaurant called Python Pizza. It comes with "dino, lizard, hold the mammal, no worms" and is spicy. So, apparently all the dinosaur descendants in the mushroom kingdom are also cannibals. We're not entirely sure what else we're supposed to be gleaning from this moment.
21. The Costumes
The closest Mario and Luigi get to their classic video game looks comes care of a costume change roughly three quarters of the way through the movie. The outfits are inexplicably found in a locker in the basement of Koopa's tower. Maybe some of Koopa's employees were running around cosplaying as plumbers.
22. Pipe Slide Chase
Mario escapes with the missing girls by sliding on a mattress down a frozen pipe while an instrumental pop-rock song wails in the background. Why not.
23. "Sir, your pizza's here."
The Python Pizza gag actually has a payoff. This is a movie with priorities.
24. Bob-Omb's Reeboks
Maybe the finest moment of product placement and branding in movie history: The tiny Bob-Omb wears Reebok shoes. This is matched only by the Olive Garden jokes in this year's Sonic the Hedgehog movie.
25. "I'm back. Love those plumbers."
That's right, the first thing the newly re-evolved king has to say for himself has nothing to do with his daughter, it's a declaration of love for those rascally plumbers.
26. Dancing Goombas
That's right, the thing to really turn the tides during the final conflict with Koopa is, in fact, a bunch of Goombas realizing that they just love to dance.
27. The Cliffhanger Ending
Tragically, Daisy decides to stay in the alternate dimension while Mario and Luigi go home--but don't panic. Just before the credits roll there's a two week time jump that features Daisy, now kitted out like a resistance fighter, showing up at Mario and Luigi's door saying "you're never gonna believe this."
We will never know what she was actually talking about, or what Mario and Luigi's next live action adventure could have been if the movie ever got a sequel, but try not to let that keep you up at night. Or, better yet, write some fanfiction and share it with us here in the comments. What does your ideal Super Mario Bros movie follow-up look like?
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