Extended Super Mario Bros. Makes Worst Video Game Movie Of All Time Even Worse
We're going down the warp pipe and back into the dismal depths of "bad" video game movies. Long before, 1997's Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, 2003's House of the Dead, the Dwayne Johnson-led DOOM, or abysmal Pixels, one movie took the crown as "worst video game movie of all time" - and has kept a tight grip on it ever since. We're obviously talking about Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel's Super Mario Bros.
In 2019, an old VHS emerged from the Mushroom Kingdom and included 20 minutes of deleted scenes. Considering the movie's divisive nature, it was hardly a headline-grabbing titbit that made fans want to rush back to see what they've missed out on. Jump forward to 2021, and fans have restored the movie with an extended cut that pushes Super Mario Bros, over the two-hour mark. In the wake of Zack Snyder's Justice League and calls for the Ayer Cut of Suicide Squad, do a handful of scenes redeem Super Mario Bros.? The answer is no, nothing can.
What went wrong with Super Mario Bros.?
The husband and wife team of Morton and Jankel had a ready-made franchise of games to bring to life. With the beloved The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! cartoon showing how it's done, it should've been easy to bring that portly plumber to life on the big screen. Sadly, while people loved animatronic heads and actors in suits for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles just three years before Super Mario Bros., things didn't work out quite as well for Morton and Jankel.
In the years since SMB, the movie has continued to be panned - with lead actor Bob Hoskins called it the worst thing he'd ever done. In a 2007 Q&A with The Guardian, the actor famously answered the Super Mario Brothers three times when asked what's the worst job he's ever done, his biggest disappointment, and the one bit of his career he'd change. Elsewhere, Hoskins nearly died twice on the set of the disastrous movie, Dennis Hopper had an explosive row with the team, and actor Richard Edson has since described it as having a "stench of it [that] sort of stays with everybody". Was Super Mario Bros. really cursed?
What do the deleted Super Mario Bros. scenes add?
The supercut of Super Mario Bros. doesn't change much in terms of the story. The two plumber brothers still journey into Dinohattan to take on King Koopa, there's still a Jurassic Park-inspired Yoshi, and sorry everyone, Princess Peach doesn't even get a mention. The extended Morton Jankel Cut is available to watch via Internet Archive and runs at 125 minutes instead of the usual 104. Trust us, you'll be asking for those two hours back.
Mainly, the extended cut just pads out a lot of scenes. Bits that are restored after being cut include a fight between the Mario Brothers and Scapelli Plumbing Company. It was implied that the Scapellis were a shady Maria-inspired group, but this is amped up more in the Morton Jankel Cut. In other scenes, there's a gruesome moment where Hopper's Koopa devolves one of his technicians into slime, and a bizarre scene of some scantily-clad women dancing in the Boom Boom Bar. Due to the nature of their revealing outfits, this was axed from the theatrical release back in 1993.
For those who consider Super Mario Bros. a cult classic, the movie has been lovingly restored - which we guess is a positive. Dirt is painted out, colours are restored, and updated SFX have been added to give Super Mario Bros. a fresher look some 28 years later. Fundamentally though, it doesn't make the movie a better video game adaptation. The directors seemingly threw the established lore of Mario games out of the window and went for something completely different.
Is there a sequel to Super Mario Bros.?
Despite the critical panning of Super Mario Bros., there actually was a sequel of sorts. The movie's end teased another adventure when Samantha Mathis' Princess Daisy returned from Dinohattan to recruit the boys again. There was also a post-credits scene that hinted at a spin-off game for fan-favourites Iggy and Spike. Instead, fansite owners Steven Applebaum and Ryan Hoss joined forces with writer Parker Bennett to write a sequel webcomic in 2013. Bennett worked on the first movie and is responsible for help creating the Super Mario Bros.' convoluted backstory.
Speaking to Empire in 2013, Applebaum explained how Bennett had always imagined the sequel hook as a Back to the Future-inspired one that was never supposed to lead anywhere. Still, Super Mario Bros. 2 once again picked up with Daisy. This time, she needed Mario and Luigi to help her defeat a mad scientist called Wart - who was ironically the villain of 1988's Super Mario Bros. 2. Discussing where the sequel took the story, Applebaum said, "We did heavily discuss the world of the film, from its backstory to the character's motivations. Parker also provided a general direction for what he would have wanted to happen to these characters and what consequences of the first film would become major themes of the sequel. At that point he sort of ‘passed the torch’ to us".
These days, Mario on our screens is (thankfully) remembered for gaming greats like Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Odyssey. Thankfully, Universal is currently working on a reboot movie through its Illumination division. Known for popularising the Minions through Despicable Me, there are high hopes the next chapter of Mario's silver screen journey could be another Detective Pikachu or Sonic the Hedgehog. For now, it's time to flush Super Mario Bros. and its extended cut back into the sewers beneath Brooklyn and leave this stinker like the fungus-ravaged Dinohattan.
Images via Nintendo | Buena Vista Pictures