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Pop CultureAugust 23, 2016

The Donbox: Super Mario Bros, 1993


The Donbox is a regular series where killing machine Don Rowe watches a movie based on, inspired by, or just damn ripped from a video game. This week Don watches 1993’s Super Mario Bros, a hellacious shit of a movie based on a premise dreamed up by a stoned 15 year old. 

Neil Gaiman, a visionary on the level of Alex Grey, David Bowie and Jesus Christ, once said that good fiction, in any form, is just a continuation and extrapolation of the timeless question of ‘what if?’

But where a genius like Gaiman asks things like what if the gods still lived, or the dead could talk, directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel had a different scenario in mind when they made 1993’s Super Mario Brothers:

“What if the impact of the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs instead created a parallel dimension where the dinosaurs continued to evolve, turning into intelligent, vicious, aggressive beings. Just like us. What if they found a way back?”


It’s fucking preposterous, and one struggles to imagine how it is at all relevant to Italian plumbers, but Morton and Jankel torturously found a way.

More incredible still, they convinced someone to fund it.

Luigi Mario (seriously) is a steezy Italian guy living in Brooklyn with his adoptive dad/mum/brother Mario Mario (seriously). After Luigi falls in love with Daisy, an orphaned student paleontologist, the pair attempt their first kiss over the fossilised skeleton of a dinosaur with opposable thumbs. But it’s not to be, as a mafioso construction firm chooses that exact moment to flood the dig, necessitating a live action plumbing repairs scene.

The dig is saved and everything is great until two trans dimensional psychopaths sneak in, KO both Mario’s and make off with Daisy through a rift in timespace.


The Mario’s regain consciousness, reveal themselves to be reasonably in control of their faculties and follow Daisy through the portal into downtown Dinohattan, an urban nightmare of neon light, electric cars and the hilariously fake dinosaur vermin.

Before long, a rotund black woman in a red leather jumpsuit robs our protagonists, making off in her rocket-boots with a piece of what turns out to be haridium – something I thought No Man’s Sky made up. The haridium is important – it’s a piece of meteorite necessary to reunite the separated dimensions, something the dictatorial King Koopa (Bowser for you casuals) is quite keen on.

What’s he not so happy with, however, is the fungus threatening to take over Dinohattan, particularly not when it turns out to be the old king, Daisy’s dad, de-evolved into a primordial slime. Why this guy, for whom an entire universe isn’t enough, didn’t just put a bullet in the old king is beyond me.

super mario whoa

The plot, characters, dialogue and general writing of Super Mario Bros are all what you could call ‘weak points’, but what can’t be denied is the skillful blending of halfway-decent special effects and ridiculous product placement. During one particularly impressive car chase, a sneaky Motorolla-branded GPS system is flashed across the screen between fiery explosions and high-impact collisions.

Considering it’s 1993, it’s probably forgivable that it leads the brothers Mario through a tunnel and off a cliff – Apple Maps was still doing that shit last year.


After 70 tedious minutes, Bowser’s henchmen turn into Marxists and start whining about facism and the oppression of the proletariat before teaming up with the brothers Mario, turning the tables on the King and spelling doom for his invasion plans.

Then, impossibly, the movie drags on for another half an hour.

It was at this point I ran out of space in my notebook, and what follows is just some scribbling about the collapse of the World Trade Centre as well the following grocery list:

  • 6 carrots
  • celery
  • kumara
  • black mustard seeds
  • 1kg stewing beef
  • 300ml plain yoghurt
  • feta cheese
  • beetroot
  • white balsamic vinegar
  • lentils
  • vegetable broth

Plus instructions on how to make beef dum gosht with Gujarati carrot salad.

Verdict: Shit film, delicious curry.

This post, like all of our gaming content, is brought to you by the Super Mario Bro’s over at Bigpipe.

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