Who says you can’t improve on cringe… or at least expand on it? Nearly three decades on from its strange, searingly unsuccessful attempt at putting Nintendo’s biggest star on the big screen, the Super Mario Bros. movie has been reintroduced online with a Bowser-sized chunk of additional footage that pads 20 minutes onto its excruciating runtime.
Okay, maybe we’re being a little uncharitable right out of the gate to Mario’s early-1990s leap into live action. After all, Super Mario Bros.’ present-day cult following attests that there’s such a thing as a good bad movie, and it’s hard to turn away from a very un-Nintendo-like film that puts Bob Hoskins (Mario), Dennis Hopper (Koopa), John Leguizamo (Luigi), and Samantha Mathis (Princess Daisy) in ridiculous outfits and even more ridiculous story scenarios.
That’s precisely why the idea of an extended cut — one that stretches the 1993 original’s mercifully short 104-minute length by 20 percent — may come as welcome news to longtime fans. And it’s the fans themselves, a small cadre of Mario movie loyalists, who’ve done the legwork to round up the unreleased footage and bounce the newly-enhanced version of the movie out at the Internet Archive for the extended version’s powered-up debut.
What more can you expect to see in a movie that already doesn’t have it all? According to the official Super Mario Bros: The Movie Archive team, which culled the added content from existing VHS footage, the changes are all over the place:
“Previously-unseen deleted scenes include the Mario Bros running afoul of the (probably Mafia-connected) Scapelli plumbing company, Koopa murdering a technician by de-evolving him into slime, and Iggy and Spike rapping about the overthrow of King Koopa at the Boom Boom Bar. There's more of Lena, Daniella and the Brooklyn Girls. Most scenes are extended in this version, with a lot more of the cast including Dennis Hopper as Koopa.”
Fully persuaded that their princess could find an even bigger castle, the team set to work peppering in the new footage in partnership with filmmaker Garret Gilchrist, whose previous restoration credits include finishing a fan-backed version of the long-in-limbo 1993 animated film The Thief and the Cobbler. The extra content was rediscovered in 2019, when the team came across a VHS version of the movie — one that “originally belonged to producer Roland Joffé” — that included 20 minutes’ worth of “previously unseen and extended scenes that expand backstory and strengthen character arcs.”
It takes a special kind of fan to get behind the idea that more backstory and character development is just what the Dr. Mario ordered for a cyber-dystopian sci-fi take on Nintendo’s bouncy, upbeat mustachioed mascot. Then again, Mario and Luigi could endure another three decades and never get the chance to get the kind of quirky, lightning-in-a-bottle big-screen treatment they received in Super Mario Bros.
If you're game to test you trained eye and see how many new bits you can spot compared with the original version, check out the extended cut over at the Internet Archive…while we wait for a progress report on Universal’s long-buzzed new CG-animated Mario movie.