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Super Mario Bros. is a 2017 traditionally-animated film produced by a collaboration of a revived Sullivan Bluth Studios, Sony, and Stephen Spielberg. Going to be released on October 18, 2017, it is mostly based off of the original 1985 Super Mario Bros. video game (released in the United States exactly 32 years earlier), but it does borrow a few elements from other Mario games, cartoons, and movies.
The film was highly successful at the box office, bringing back $538.7 million in the United States and Canada and $975.0 million worldwide against a $120 million budget, making it the third-highest grossing film of 2017 domestically and the fourth-highest grossing film of 2017 worldwide. It would later spawn three sequels: Super Mario Bros. 2 (2020) , Super Mario Bros. 3 (2022), and Super Mario World (2023).
The film begins in flashback to the year 1965 in Brooklyn, New York City. An middle-aged man drops off a baby at a church door, leaving a mushroom-shaped locket with a ruby in the infant's blanket. He flees, but is ambushed by large figures, who demand the child or else the man will face immeasurable agony, but he dies of a heart attack.
It then cuts to Brooklyn in 1985. Mario and Luigi, two plumbers who own a struggling business called "Mario Bros. Plumbing." They are working on a plumbing job. Luigi is talking about admitting his love to Daisy, an assistant in a flower shop, while Mario is very cynical about women after Brenda, his love, ditched him three days before the wedding to hook up with the caterer. Luigi's messing around when Mario isn't there extends the job to three hours due to fixing the pipes, something that infuriates Mario. Mario is infuriated even further when Luigi gives money to a bum.
Luigi visits the flower shop. Although he doesn't express his thoughts how he wanted, he and Daisy plan a lunch for two days later. Later that evening, Luigi asks how Mario will feel when he moves out, worried he'll be lonely. Mario, still mad about what happened earlier with the plumbing job, angrily tells Luigi that once he moves out, perhaps he (Mario) can get a life.
Later that night, Luigi has a nightmare that he's walking down a rainy street with Daisy; she points out a ruby locket in a gutter, which Luigi retrieves for her, but a reptilian claw grabs her when he heads back to her. The next morning, he goes outside for some fresh air only to run into goons working for Eddie Delpino, a mob boss who loaned money to Mario so he can pay the bills. After the goons start hassling Luigi; Mario says he should be the brunt of the hassle, and claims he's got a big job the next day that'll pay Eddie off. The next day, however, Mario finds out that the engineer he's working for is also looking for bribes before he'll take the work, and after he calls Mario a "shrimp," Mario flies into a rage and throws the engineer's expensive golfing equipment out the window.
As all this is going on, Luigi entertains a group of children about a story of a fisherman and a genie (from Arabian Nights). The story goes like this: There was once a fisherman who discovered a genie in a bottle floating in the sea. When released, the genie, vengeful of his imprisonment, decides to kill his master. The fisherman outsmarts the genie, however, by tricking him into going back into his bottle to prove how powerful he is. He then throws the bottle back into the sea. After Luigi's finished telling this story, Mario approaches him. Luigi tells Mario that he got them a job at a church. Mario is delighted until Luigi confesses that the job's for free. Mario is angry about this, but decides to do the job anyway because it's a church. While working, they find the ruby locket in an ancient pipe. Luigi thinks it's special since it's the exact same locket he saw in his dream, but Mario hopes to pay off Mr. Delpino with it. Luigi secretly takes it with him as he goes to Daisy's flower shop, taking a pizza with him as he sees a man named Mr. Koopa there, a tall fellow in a coat.
Koopa claims he was hired by Daisy's parents to retrieve her, which Daisy is excited about and postpones Luigi's date until the next day, to his dismay. Koopa seems odd to him, and Luigi discovers he's allergic to mushrooms after offering him a slice of pizza. Luigi has a bad feeling about Koopa and remembering the dream and the locket, and he follows after the taxi. Mario, meanwhile, gives Eddie a rock from a bag, believing it was the ruby, and is chased across the city by the gangsters.
The two brothers catch up and get into a scuffle before they duck into an abandoned diner in an alleyway, which is very suspicious to them, with a frog-themed menu and small furniture. They find a room with a large pipe emanating spooky sounds and Daisy's purse inside, and the two are sucked in. They land in a grassy meadow where they're attacked by Piranha Plants; they flee and encounter a mushroom-like creature dangling on a metronome above two Piranha Plants. They free him and he introduces himself as Toad, but are interrupted when a large flying warship passes over.
The warship lands, allowing them to see that Koopa is aboard, along Daisy and with various others- Koopa Troopas, Yeelahs (burly, bearded Mushroomers who serve in Koopa's Vichy-like militia), and Kamek. Koopa returns to his regular form. Luigi tries to rescue Daisy, but Koopa flies off in the ship and leaves two Yeelahs to kill them, but when Luigi shows them the locket, they bow down before the plumbers.
The three are taken to a village, where it's explained that Koopa killed off the royal family except for the princess, and it is believed the king may still be out there somewhere. Woltan the Wizard sees the locket, an heirloom of the royal family, but desires to prove their worthiness by sending them on a quest to the Pit of No Return where Koopa banished all their magical items, and he wants his magic wand back. Woltan also notes the Out Pipes on the map, which can get them to various places, even home, and also mentions the quest will make them infinitely richer. Mario likes both of those, but Luigi is interested in legitimately saving the day. Woltan sends his daughter, Toadstool, with them to keep them safe from any unfamiliar dangers. Meanwhile, Toad writes a note and slips to the bar boy, who then sends it via carrier turtle to Koopa. Luigi buys a supposedly magical bean from a bum, which angers Mario.
It is revealed that Koopa wants to marry Daisy so he will be connected to the royal family, granting him the Crown of Invincibility, but she must willingly marry him. Kamek creates a box of chocolates that will make her fall in love with him, but she must eat them all for it to take absolute effect. Initially, Koopa is infuriated that the chocolates will not have an immediate effect, but forgives Kamek when he is told that the it's the only way to change Daisy's appearance as well as her feelings. Why Koopa wants Daisy's appearance to be altered is never explicitly revealed, but it is heavily implied that he once had a human form, and is ashamed of the fact. Mugger, receiving the note from Toad, informs Koopa that the plumbers are still alive. Koopa dispatches two Hammer Brothers to take care of them.
Mario, Luigi, Toadstool, and Toad find a pipe that emits items "lost" in our world - pens, combs, shoes, etc, and they discover Mario and Luigi's father's Swiss army knife, which was given to Luigi when he was a kid but was later lost by Luigi. Mario's a bit upset about that. They camp out, and after Luigi falls asleep, Mario complains to Toad and Toadstool about Luigi and how much of a pain he is to him. Toad gets bored with Mario's ranting and falls asleep, but Toadstool is offended by Mario's ranting and rebukes him for being ungrateful that he has a loving family. It then turns out that Luigi was pretending to be asleep and heard the whole thing.
In the morning, the group are continuing on their way but Mario tries to lead them to an Out Pipe, infuriating the others. But they have no time to complain before Mugger and the Hammer Brothers attack on horses, prompting our heroes to flee via a carriage. The Hammer Bros. are defeated by being pelted with fruit but the group's carriage crashes, and they hide out near a hag who claims she was made ugly by a spell and needs kissed by someone with a warm heart to cure her. She attempts to seduce Mario, but he rejects her advances. But he finally gives in when she offers to hide them from the approaching Mugger. Mario's kiss is insufficient as apparently his heart is too cold, but the hag hides them anyway. After Mugger leaves, an angry Luigi tells Mario to go home for jeopardizing the quest. Mario starts to walk off, but Toadstool prevents him from leaving, saying that she sees something in him that manifest in him having the will and courage to do the right thing. Mario is confused about this, but decides to stay.
The group makes their way to a forest where they encounter an egg, and a brontosaurus-like creature hatches from it, which they call Yoshi. Yoshi treats Mario like a mother and uses its long tongue to eat fruit, but they leave him behind as they enter the Pit of No Return. It's filled with traps, including Thwomps and Bob-Ombs, but they find the stockpile of magical items, though they can only take one; Luigi takes magic mushroom powder that can break any spell, Toadstool takes a Starman, Toad takes a "box of flight gear", while Mario takes Woltan's wand and attempts to sneak a gem with him, but is forced to give it up when a Boo Buddy nearly strangles him. They escape with their lives, only to run into Koopa, Mugger and some Troopas. Toad and Luigi are shoved down the Pit while Mario and Toadstool fight off Koopa and his troops using a Super Mushroom and Koopa Troopa shells, respectively,and speed out of the forest on Yoshi, who came back during the battle. Luigi uses the flight gear (a Super Leaf) to gain raccoon ears and a tail to fly into a tunnel with Toad, but by that time Mario and Toadstool have fled and Koopa's crew have gone.
Mario says to Toadstool how he wished he could get some time alone from his brother, but now that he believes Luigi died in the Pit he knows now to wish for the wrong things. Yoshi hears a trumpeting animal call, presumed to be from his mother and he leaves. Mario tells Toadstool his back story:
- In 1969, a then 17-year-old Mario had a bright future ahead of him. He was a star football player at his high school and was being offered many scholarships. But he was forced to abandon it all when his parents were killed in a car accident, and since he had no other relatives to take care of a then 9-year-old Luigi, he had to raise him himself. Since then, he's been stuck as a measly plumber with no future, and his sweetheart, Brenda, has abandoned him.
Mario says he often took his frustration out on Luigi because if it weren't for him existing, Mario wouldn't have had to abandon his dreams. But now he regrets it all because he believes Luigi is dead. Mario starts sobbing and says he will never forgive himself.
Toadstool then tells Mario that he has learned his lesson and then tells her own backstory:
- Toadstool never knew her mother, who died when she was a baby. She only knew her father, Woltan. But Woltan barely paid attention to her as a daughter because he was so focused on practicing magic and leading a rebellion against Koopa (that she has been forced to fight in since she was an adolescent, and during which she has seen many of her friends die). Because of that, her childhood was lonely and regimented, and she harbors some resentment towards Woltan. Therefore, the concept of a loving family is beyond meaningful to her, as she barely had one herself. She also harbors resentment over the fact that Woltan has been deliberately waging the rebellion in a way that the goal is not outright victory, but to hold Koopa off until the "prophesied ones" arrived. She also reveals that she personally does not believe in the prophesy, as she believes that prophesies are false constructs designed to gain power over others, and that self-determined destiny is what makes events happen. Hence why she strove to get Mario and Luigi to stay on the quest when the going got tough.
Mario and Toadstool realize that they have far more in common than previously thought, as they were both discontent with their family life and marginalized by society. Toadstool uses this as an excuse to try to kiss Mario, but he rejects her advances. Woltan appears out of nowhere and reclaims his wand. The three head to Koopa's castle, but on the way Woltan is zapped by lightning in a storm and all that is left of him is ash and the ruby locket.
Toadstool plunges into grief, and confesses to Mario that her real name is Peach and Toadstool is in fact her last name. She also confesses that Daisy is not the lost princess that Koopa is looking for: she is. Peach tells Mario that Daisy's real parents were Lord and Lady Sarasa, close friends of the royal family. She and Daisy were born on the same day and shortly after their births, Koopa took over. Both of their mothers were killed and Woltan decided to trick Koopa by having Lord Sarasa abandon his child in Brooklyn and have Koopa think that Daisy was in fact Peach. Woltan then disguised himself as a wizard and publically (but not privately) changed his daughter's name to Toadstool to hide her from Koopa and still raise her as a future leader in the case something happened to him. Mario, already angry over the fact that Woltan cost people their lives over his obession with the prophecy, is infuriated that Peach essentially stood by and lived a lie as Woltan did what he did, and tells her if it wasn't for her cowardice, he wouldn't be in this mess and Luigi would still be alive. He leaves her alone to grieve, and says that he no longer needs her help, as she has done more harm than good.
Meanwhile, Luigi and Toad are in an underground cavern, and are being chased by a Monty Mole. They are saved when the bean Luigi bought starts growing into a beanstalk and takes them to the surface. Luigi and Toad witness Mario heading inside Koopa's castle, but it's actually an illusion by Kamek and Mario is kidnapped. Luigi and Toad find Peach and tell her what's going on. Peach decides to redeem herself by using the Starman to temporarily become invincible and knock out Kamek and the three Yeelahs guarding Mario. As there are only three sets of armor to be worn, Mario, Luigi, and Peach take them and sneak into the real castle while Toad waits outside.
Mario, Luigi, and Peach accidentally end up on stage during Koopa's bachelor party (where a now fully transformed and brainwashed Daisy is present), prompting them to do a song and dance about how he is adored. They are exposed, however, when Luigi breaks out of formation and uses the Mushroom Powder on Daisy, restoring her to normal. The three of them are captured. Peach confesses her true identity to Koopa and opens the locket with her own will as proof (Koopa didn't even try that test). She says that she is willing to marry Koopa if he spares the life of the man who she truly loves, Mario, along with Luigi and Daisy. Koopa accepts that deal, but on condition that Mario, Luigi, and Daisy stay in the dungeon until after the wedding, and then are banned from the kingdom.
In the dungeon, the brothers have a heart-to-heart where Luigi explains he wanted to leave Mario, but before their parents died, they made him promise to look after Mario, as they feared that he only cared about his dreams, and he would grow bitter and hateful if things didn't go his way, and Luigi thinks he's failed in that task. He gives Mario the Swiss army knife back. In the morning, Toad rescues them by poisoning the dungeon keeper with a Poison Mushroomm, but while escaping, he accidentally pulls a lever that opens a trap door, sending them falling into a waterlogged chamber filled with Cheep Cheeps and Bloobers. Mario manages to fight them off with another Super Mushroom.Toad confesses his treachery from earlier and his apology is accepted. Using his giant size, Mario begins smashing through the castle to get to the wedding
Koopa starts the wedding, but our heroes don't foil it before Peach says "I do," unknowingly granting Koopa the power of the Crown of Invincibility (both of them believe that the power is granted when they are pronounced man and wife). When Mario arrives, he and Peach embrace and Peach tells Mario that the whole thing about her deciding to marry Koopa was a trick, and that she had faith that Mario would come back and defeat Koopa when his guard was down. While she is explaining this, Koopa puts the Crown of Invincibility on his head and becomes invincible. Mario fights Koopa and loses his Super power. Peach gives him a Fire Flower from her boquet and he becomes Fire Mario for the first time. The fight between Mario and Koopa spills in a chamber with a rickety bridge over a sea of lava.
Meanwhile, in the great hall, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and Daisy use Fire Flowers to fight off Kamek, Mugger, and Koopa's other minions. The battle soon also spills into the lava chamber, during which Mugger falls into the lava and is incinerated. On the bridge, Mario loses his firepower and is knocked off, but manages to grab a rope to safety. Remembering the story Luigi was telling the kids back in Brooklyn, he knows he can't use brawn to win this match.
He goads Koopa into making himself bigger and bigger. Koopa's Troopas think it's a trap to make him crush the platform he's on, so he floats into the air to rectify that, but Mario's real plan was to make the crown unable to fit on his head anymore. The crown falls off and Koopa returns to normal. He falls onto the bridge, splitting it in half, and seemingly falls into the lava. Mario jumps onto the half that is closer to where the other heroes are standing. He climbs up and grabs Peach's hand, but before she can pull him up, Koopa reappears, claws Mario in the legs and attempts to throw him down into the lava. Peach zaps Koopa with the ruby locket, causing him to lose his grip, pull Mario and Peach down with him, and for all three to start falling. It is not shown if Koopa landed in the lava or on a rock ledge hanging over it, which could indicate a possible return in a sequel. Yoshi suddenly reappears, and uses his tongue saves Mario and Peach before they could fall into the lava.
Kamek appears riding a stream of fire, and vows revenge before vanishing. Woltan reappears, having faked his death. He uses his wand to reveal himself as the King Natlow who was believed to be gone. Returned to his kingdom, King Natlow announces he will let his daughter explore both worlds as she pleases, as he's married a barmaid named Ursula so he can produce more heirs. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Yoshi, and Toad are presented tiny medals, which disgusts Mario - he was expecting infinite riches. Natlow explains he is infinitely richer - in his heart. Toad thinks he should run for village elder. The hag returns and kisses Mario, and like she said, she transforms into a beautiful woman. Mario is mesmerized, but Peach shoos her away, making it clear that she wants to be Mario's girlfriend. Luigi and Daisy kiss. The movie ends with the two new couples heading into the Out Pipe, ready for a new adventure.
NOTE: This plot is largely copied and pasted from a synopsis of an early draft of the 1993 film's script, which can be found here. You can compare the two, and notice that in this version (the wiki page), there are renamed characters, new characters, and added subplots (as well as corrected grammatical errors).
Mario: Leonardo DiCaprio
Peach: Isla Fisher
Luigi: Ben Savage
Toad: John Stocker (reprises his role in the DIC cartoons)
Koopa: Christian Bale
Daisy: Amy Adams
Natlow: Christopher Plummer
Kamek: Harvey Atkin
Yoshi: Andrew Sabiston (reprises his role from the DIC cartoons)
Mugger: Jim Cummings
In addition, all of the living cast members from the Super Mario Bros. Super Show aside from John Stocker and Andrew Sabistion make cameo appearances. Walker Boone, who voiced Mario in Seasons 2 and 3, voices Farley the corrupt engineer. Tony Rosato, who voiced Luigi in Seasons 2 and 3, voices Mr. Delpino. Jeannie Elias, who voiced Peach in Season 1, voices Farley's secretary, the old hag who kisses Mario, and the nun who raised Daisy. Tracey Moore, who voiced Peach in Seasons 2 and 3, voices Claire (Daisy's co-worker in the flower shop). John Stocker, who voiced Toad in the show and also voices Toad in this movie, voices Delpino's goons and most of Koopa's minions. Harvey Atkin, who voiced Koopa in the show, voices Kamek, Mr. Fielding (Daisy's boss in the flower shop), the owner of the jewelry shop, and some of Koopa's minions. The cast also features cameos by Jay-Z (as Vinnie), Ty Simpkins (as the bar boy Toad gives the note to) Ann-Margret (as Natlow's wife Ursula) and Idina Menzel (as the reptillian dancer who performs for Koopa right before Mario, Luigi, and Peach stumble onstage in their knight disguises).
Interest in making another Super Mario Bros. movie had been prevalent ever since the failure of the 1993 movie. However, a serious attempt did not begin until late 2014. In response to the massive success of Disney's Frozen, Sony began exploring the idea of producing a computer-generated Super Mario movie that would be based off of the more modern games. After much persuasion, Nintendo decided to give Sony the rights to all Mario characters. However, complications arose when Disney, who had been granted the rights to Mario for Wreck it Ralph 2, threatened to sue both Nintendo and Sony for violation of contract unless the Sony movie did not start production until after Wreck it Ralph 2 was released. Sony studio executives considered these demands unacceptable, and the project entered development hell. That was, until Stephen Spielberg came in. Spielberg was convinced that the project was viable not as a computer-generated film, but as a traditionally-animated one. He successfully convinced Sony to revive the project, and convinced his old animation partner, Don Bluth, to come out of retirement. The two had previously worked together on An American Tail (1986), and The Land Before Time (1988). Spielberg also convinced many animators at Disney who were disgruntled with the studio's abandonment of traditional animation after the lackluster performance of The Princess and the Frog (2009) to resign from Disney and work on the project. As a result, for the first time ever, a non-Disney movie that had the same ultra-high animation quality as the Disney Rennaissance films (The Little Mermaid (1989), The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Hercules (1997), Mulan (1998), and Tarzan (1999)) was being produced. Finally, Spielberg managed to form a compromise with Disney and Disney allowed production to proceed as long as the film was traditionally animated, the characters looked different from how they look in the more recent games, and the voices from the video games are not used. As the characters were redesigned, this is what they look like in the film:
- Mario: Same as the box art for the Super Mario Bros. video game.
- Luigi: Same as the recent video games except his hair is black, his eyes are green, and the colors of his shirt and overalls are switched.
- Peach: Same as the promotional art for the Super Mario Bros. video game.
- Toad: Same as the DIC cartoons, except his color scheme is the same as the video games.
- Yoshi: Same as the box art for the Super Mario World video game.
- Daisy: Same as the box art for the Super Mario Land video game.
- Koopa: Same as the DIC cartoons, except his eyeballs are white, his tongue is pink, he wears a black cape, and actually breathes fire.
- Kamek: Same as the box art for Magikoopas in the Super Mario World video game.
The making of the movie was led by five people: Spielberg, Bluth, Bluth's longtime animation partner Gary Goldman, Iron Man producer Avi Arad, and former Disney Animator James Lopez, who worked on an independent project, a steampunk adventure film called Hullabaloo, alongside Bluth at the same time Super Mario' Bros. was being produced. After Super Mario Bros. was released, Spielberg and Arad joined the production Hullabaloo as well, and that film was released on November 21, 2018.
Meanwhile, Spielberg hired ILM (the company that created the special effects for the Star Wars films, E.T., the Jurassic Park films, Titanic, the Avatar films, and the Harry Potter films) to do the special effects. Spielberg's goal was to achieve unprecedented special effects: the "cartoonizing" of live-action effects, which Spielberg compared to "moving paintings." In addition, Spielberg hired John Williams (composer of the Jaws films, the Star Wars films, E.T., the Jurassic Park films, and the first three Harry Potter films) to compose the score.
Release, Box Office, and Awards
The film premiered in New York on September 13, 2017, in one of the most expensive movie premieres ever held. In addition to the cast and crew doing the usual red-carpet event, many people who had played the main characters in the games, cartoons, and 1993 film showed up as guests and did photo-ops with the cast member who played their character in the film. Meanwhile a "Mario" convention was held next door to the theater, with tens of thousands of fans attending, and with the cast appearing for a press conference after the screening was over.
The film was released on October 18, 2017. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $85.2 million domestically and $154.3 million worldwide. Ultimately, it grossed $538.7 million domestically and $975.0 million worldwide, making it the third-highest grossing movie of 2017 domestically and the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2017 worldwide.
The film was critically acclaimed, ranking 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and 4 stars out of 4 on Roger Ebert's website.
The film was successful at the Oscars, recieving siz nominations and winning three (not counting the Special Achievement Award):
- Best Animated Feature (won)
- Best Adaped Screenplay (nominated)
- Best Original Score (won)
- Best Picture (nominated)
- Best Sound Mixing (won)
- SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: John Stocker for Outstanding Vocal Work