It should be mentioned that there are a great deal of 1993 “Super Mario” fans and apologists in the world. This author is one of them. The dank strangeness of the movie, paired with a very particular brand of clunky Hollywood artificiality makes “Super Mario Bros.” a fascinating creative exercise. Given the technological advances of film visual effects in 1993, any attempts to make a live-action movie that resembled the Mario games would have emerged looking like a bad acid trip. The filmmakers, then, had to invent their own story out of some admittedly surreal and nonsensical video games that, really, had no story to crib from.
The premise of “Super Mario Bros.” is strange, but creative: it seems the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs actually split Earth into two separate dimensions. In one of them, humans evolved to be the dominant species. In the other, the dinosaurs survived, and evolved into human-looking beings. Thanks to a rift between the worlds, a dinosaur princess is abandoned back on Earth as a baby. Years later, the princess (Samantha Mathis) is kidnapped back into the dinosaur dimension by the evil King Koopa (Dennis Hopper), who intends to unite his dimension with Earth’s. It seems that he, a vicious fascist, has consumed his planet’s resources to the point where only one major city remains. He needs to sap Earth in order to survive. Only a pair of Brooklyn plumbers (Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo) can save the day.
The Mario Bros. are sassy, confused New Yorkers with their own voices and their own characters. This is fair play, as Mario was previously a mere video game sprite, more a cipher and a mascot than a character. Turning Mario into Bob Hoskins was a fine idea.