Transitional "Die Hard-inspired" Sci-Fi/Action Draft: Detailed Synopsis
Author: Mark Johnston (Ragey)
July 10, 2011
Following creative differences and a desire to move into production with a completed script as quickly as possible, writers Parker Bennett and Terry Runté were let go and replaced with writers Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais, who would maintain much of the structure from Parker/Terry’s script while inserting new elements and characters (as well as changed characterizations). Most notably, they would improve and heighten the terribly disjointed final act.
However, this script still appears to be little more than a stopgap meant to be polished even further upon additional discussion. Dick and Ian would later do just that in a second script dated March 25th 1992 (which can be read HERE) that explored more of their own concepts while downplaying or removing those that came before.
Character roles and relationships saw the most change in this new script. Mario, formerly a surly character with questionable business ethics, is now comparatively whimsical with an almost obsessive fascination for plumbing. Luigi is no longer a “dreamer” or “believer,” though does have a minor character arc of gaining respect for his plumbing roots.
Daisy's input to the story is almost none as she rarely interacts with the other characters, even Luigi. The fungus is briefly established to be the former king, but is no longer her father (making her role as a princess questionable) and nothing further is done with it. She now has a friend in the Goomba Hark, though even their interaction is underused. Hark's role would be expanded in the next script and the character eventually consolidated with the Toad character for the finished film.
Some characters have slightly larger roles this time around - Iggy and Spike initially come across malicious in their kidnapping attempts, but are stripped of all threat as soon as the brothers follow them into Dinoyawk. They do ally themselves with Mario and Luigi later on to reclaim the crystal for Koopa, but they then just hang around for no good reason. Later scripts utilize their re-evolution and improved intelligence to make them realize Koopa's failings as a leader and the decrepitude of their society, but this draft provides no such excuse; after the Boom Boom Bar they tag along just for the thrill of it and offer no meaningful help.
Lena is now a more ambitious character who yearns for power of her own and harbors jealousy over Daisy; both of which become her defining motivations in the finished film. On the other hand, Koopa comes across as a half-hearted threat that lacks a build-up to a threatening "master plan." What little motivation he has is wildly inconsistent—Koopa sends Iggy and Spike to capture Daisy and retrieve the crystal, but shows no knowledge of her connection to it despite sending her through a brain scan to determine her heritage as a Portal-Keeper. Even in the film’s climax, Koopa is shocked to discover Daisy is able to insert the crystal into the meteor to merge the dimensions.
A few other developments show that Koopa's character is in a continued state of flux: his physical appearance is still that of the "warlord" variety while his hair is black with a slicked ponytail. His personality is largely aggressive here and he is physically superior—later drafts would make the character more quirky and take away his added strength. Finally, the "regression effects" from the Parker/Terry draft are heavily utilized although he never turns into a full-blown “reptile man” as in the finished film.
Toad returns, retaining his chameleon-like abilities, though is now introduced in the desert as a junk collector rather than in the city as a street musician. He also has a partner named Burrows that takes the place of Toad’s friends Freeman, Mannis and Fodor from the previous script, but even decreasing them from three to one leaves too many characters to really add anything. The two are practically non-entities: they drive the garbage truck around, deliver the sub-dimensional spiel we've seen in every script and supply Mario with his Bob-Omb, but offer nothing else. Burrows pretty much vanishes after the Boom Boom Bar; one wonders what his contribution was even meant to be. Dick/Ian would later remove him in their next draft, giving his gravelly and jaded personality to Toad while also introducing him in the city.
There's a new subordinate of Koopa in Bloober, who's technically a main character if only because he has lines in three separate scenes and gets a brief physical description, but other than that he's entirely a throwaway character. He would remain in later drafts and share his role as Koopa’s advisor alongside Wart only for both to be removed entirely in the finished film.
A new character, Gloria, is introduced as a police officer present when Mario and Luigi are booked. She steals Daisy's crystal and later appears in the Boom Boom Bar Scene, but has no real personality. She was renamed “Bertha” and expanded into a more proactive cop in the next script, only to lose the police aspect of her character in the film itself in exchange for increased screen time as a supporting ally.
Strangely, the Goombas are seen in the de-evolution scene, but are rarely if ever mentioned again. They’re never involved in the plot and feel nothing more than background fixtures. Similarly, Yoshi disappears mere seconds after his debut.
There's also the usual changes to the story’s structure: the introduction to Dinoyawk retains the silly and light-hearted tone from the Bennett/Runté script and establishes that it's like a mirror amalgamation of various cities around the world (not just New York) by having a scene set in the parallel version of Daisy's church. Certain scenes are re-ordered, most notably Koopa being introduced as Larry Lazard, which makes his reveal as Koopa a genuine surprise.
The “golf course of doom” is changed into a desert bounty hunt staged to capture the Mario brothers and narrated by Wendy and Morton from the Bennett/Runté script (this segment would remain in the next Dick/Ian script, but without the newscasters). Additionally, a brief visit to Toad's pad and the Boom Boom Bar before the assault on Koopa's Tower appears like a more refined take on the last draft.
In general, the script feels "glanced over," for lack of a better term. There are a fair few additions and changes, but none of it really adds a lot. Mario's exaggerated enthusiasm for plumbing is cute, but there's a shocking lack of personality to the whole affair. Hark has potential, but he inputs very little besides making concerned faces while listening to the bad guys talk. The idea of Spike and Iggy teaming up with the Mario brothers should be entertaining, but there's just a serious lack of wit or engagement to what little interaction there is. Eddie Scapelli lacks much of the intimidating and intriguing mob-man attitude the other scripts gave him, and even Koopa comes across as a half-hearted threat.
The script reeks like a stopgap measure, though Ian and Dick would thankfully polish it up beautifully in their next draft, creating a much more entertaining and readable experience. However, that leaves this draft with comparatively little value; what few unique elements present are too under-written to garner intrigue and what's good is reused to a better extent in later scripts.
The opening plays out the same as the finished film - Daisy's mother drops an egg off at a church, gets intercepted by Koopa in the subway tunnel, and then hits the support beam and gets crushed in a rockfall.
In present day Brooklyn, Mario and Luigi are on their way to a plumbing job, running through red lights as if it's a serious emergency. Mario is well and truly passionate about plumbing, while Luigi is fairly indifferent: "Boy, I love jobs like that. You feel the adrenaline, the blood pumpin' in your veins. Mario and Luigi to the rescue -- what a rush!" "It wasn't a life-threatening situation, Mario. We're not cops or paramedics. We're plumbers." "Leak-busters, kid." Daisy, a palaeontology student working on a bone excavation near Brooklyn Bridge, heads towards her workplace at the River Cafe, and is followed by two despicable individuals, Iggy and Spike ("They look as if their clothes are rented -- as if they're not used to wearing suits and ties. Both have long faces with an unnatural pallor to their skin."). Just as they're about to sneak out and grab her in a black velvet bag, their car is blocked by the Mario brothers' van, whose next job is in the restaurant.
Mario fixes the owner's dishwasher for the best price he can offer while Luigi mingles with Daisy; Iggy and Spike sit in the corner watching them. Luigi takes the blame when Daisy accidentally drops an stack of expensive dishes, and while thanking them after her shift, they give her a ride to the excavation site. Daisy explains about the bone findings and the theory this is where the meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs, while Mario uses this opportunity to ramble about plumbing. "You wanna know how to tell a great civilization? By the plumbing. [...] I'm serious! Look at the Greeks, the Romans, the Incas. They were great because of their plumbing. That's how they became great."
Mario heads out for a date with Daniella, the sister of Eddie Scapelli, who enters and intrudes on their date, sending Daniella away so he can talk with Mario. Eddie has the contract for the construction and excavation at the bone site and he's sick of waiting around, so he wants Mario to flood the place, choosing him for his expertise in plumbing. He leaves, but not before threatening lethal force should Mario get too touchy-feely with his sister. Luigi gives Daisy a lift home from the excavation site in the van, and picks up Mario and Daniella as well; they're tailed by Iggy and Spike. Daniella is dropped off, but not without Daisy giving her her distinctive red umbrella before driving off. Iggy and Spike capture her before she can even enter the house and take her to a "radiology room" where her brain is scanned. They get a negative result.
The next day, Scapelli kicks his way into Mario's apartment and is frazzled - Daniella is missing, and he's getting impatient with the excavation project, so he wants it done by now. Luigi and Daisy are at the site to look over their findings - Luigi admires the crystal necklace Daisy has, which she claims is all she had when she was found by the church. Mario is sneaked into the site by one of Eddie's goons to tamper with the valves, while deep in the tunnel Iggy and Spike are returning from where they'd taken Daniella, and recognise the scent of Daisy. They sneak out, club Luigi unconscious and carry her back into the tunnel as the water busts loose. Luigi isn't down for long and notices Daisy's crystal has been left behind, and follows a trail into the tunnel where he finds Mario leaving - they explore the deeper depths of the tunnel in search of her, and find a portal embedded in a rock wall. They're sucked through.
In the portal chamber, they're met by a janitor who (after a bribe) tips them in towards where Daisy was taken. An updraft in the next chamber carries them to an access room full of multi-coloured pipes, and a door leads into a very run-down and poorly-maintained subway. They spy Iggy and Spike trying to drag Daisy onto a train; the brothers grab them and beat them up, but Daisy can't get off due to the swarm of people crowding aboard. Mario and Luigi head upwards so they can get a taxi to the next subway stop, but are shocked at the frighteningly warped version of New York - Dinoyawk. "It's like New York but it ain't New York." "It's like New York on acid." "How would you know, you don't even do Bufferin?"
They try and hail a cab, but it nearly runs them down without stopping. A guy with Air Stompers and a stun stick tries to rob them, but is chased away by police officers, who then arrest the brothers for not offering valid identification (or a bribe, for that matter). Mario and Luigi are taken to the police station, their valuables taken (Daisy's crystal is claimed by a busty cop named Gloria), run through a "de-fungus" procedure, and then thrown in jail. Mario reveals to Luigi he was responsible for the flood, though he reminds him that it's not wise to back down when Eddie asks you to do a favor.
Meanwhile, Daisy's stop lands her in a hostile street, and she takes refuge in a parallel version of the church she was raised in, but it's a dark and dank refuge of potheads and wasters. Iggy and Spike head to Koopa's Tower and are scolded by Lena for losing Daisy, but they identify the Mario brothers among the new prison inmates. An all-points-bulletin is called to haul in every woman around Daisy's age.
The brothers are taken to a lawyer. They learn that Koopa rules the city and is described unfavourably, and they're pried for details about Daisy. They identify her among a cell full of women, and only then realise their lawyer is President Koopa. Daisy is taken to the same radiology procedure that Daniella was put through, and then taken to Koopa's chamber; he reveals that this is her home and very briefly talks about her mother, but is more interested in the crystal necklace she had. The necklace is missing, leaving Koopa a mite miffed.
Mario and Luigi are taken to the de-evolution chamber, where "nerdy technocrat" Bloober mans the controls. Koopa questions the brothers on where the crystal is, and threatens them with de-evolution, using one of his guards as a test subject, but a faulty circuit fries him into primeval slush. Mario scuffles with Koopa and knocks him into the pod, activating it, so he and Luigi beat feet to the police parking lot. They steal a car and careen their way through the city, hounded by cops, until they plough through a blocked-off tunnel which is layered in fungus, cutting them off with the wire mesh power supply. The tunnel eventually gives way to a huge drop over the desert, though the fungus acts as a bungee cord to bring them to a safe stop.
Koopa and Lena monitor the chase for the brothers, but the trail is lost, so they order in helicopters, bounty hunters and any means necessary to capture them, Koopa's anger exposes a glimpse of his regressed reptilian side after the stint with de-evolution. Daisy is visited in her chamber by Hark, a humble Goomba who bonds with her, even if it's a one-sided conversation.
In the morning, Mario and Luigi figure out what they have to do - both want to rescue Daisy, but Mario especially, who feels guilty over exposing her to Koopa. A news helicopter hovers overhead, prompting them to scramble for cover; the footage is broadcast in the Boom Boom Bar where the newscaster encourages a free-for-all to capture the plumbers (Iggy and Spike are among the "contestants"); Gloria recognises the brothers. As Mario and Luigi head towards the city the various contestants rumble onto the scene; the bounty hunters fight amongst themselves mostly, allowing Iggy and Spike to capture them. However, they drive straight into a huge crater of sand, and the brothers are sucked below the surface. The game having come to an early close, Koopa arrives and stakes Iggy and Spike in the desert, probing them for the whereabouts of crystal before leaving them as meals for the sand eels and carrion hawks.
The brothers land in the home of Toad and Burrows, who offer them vintage wines (only for smelling - "If you drink it you'll suffer profound melancholia for a week."). Toad, a chameleon-esque character, tells them his theory about sub-dimensions and elaborates on the tyranny of the Koopas. The four return to the surface come sunset and save Iggy and Spike before heading to the outskirts of the city, where the garbage is dumped by "sludge-gulpers", manned by Sniff-Its. They beat up the crew and steal their gas-masked uniforms, and use the vehicle to head towards the Boom Boom Bar in search of Gloria and the crystal.
Mario, Luigi, Iggy and Spike (after the latter two lending them suits) enter the bar and spy Gloria; Spike makes his move (using Mario's "can o' spam" chat-up lines from the finished movie) and is punched in the face. Mario gives it a shot, but is distracted by Lena, who's also at the bar - they begin dancing, much to Iggy and Spike's shock, as Lena is using the dance to signal the Goombas in. Luigi causes a distraction by leaping onto the disco ball and dropping down on some Goombas, causing a huge brawl - Gloria drops the crystal in the confusion, but Lena grabs it. The four escape upstairs to the storage room, where they take a pair of Air Stompers each and bust through the glass ceiling, right onto Toad's sludge-gulper.
Daisy is brought to Koopa's suite where he presents her a gift - Yoshi - and explains how the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs splintered dimensions, and this one is decaying, hence his desire to merge the dimensions so he can rule over all. He tries to seduce her, but Lena barges in and presents the crystal to him, making Koopa forget all about Daisy.
The plumbers and the others arrive outside Koopa's Tower, intimidated by the size of it. "It's not gonna be easy." "Yeah, I thought that two years ago when I was called in to check this boiler in Bensonhurst. First I thought, no way Jose, this needs a specialist, a contractor. Then something inside me --" "Mario, Mario -- This is bigger than a boiler!" Toad and Burrows lead them through a manhole tunnel and find the boiler room, but not before a brief encounter with the manic Hammer Bros.. They find the boiler room and tamper with the wiring, disabling the elevators, and make adjustments to the main vent pipe's internal elevator, turning it into a maximum-velocity slingshot of sorts that'll carry them up obscenely fast, and then go on a one-way trip down again, giving them very little time to leap into the ventilation shaft. Before they go, Toad hands Mario a Bob-Omb in case he needs it. The brothers go up and just barely get into the shaft - the lift crashes down and destroys the boiler room, knocking out all power in the tower.
Koopa has assembled his main men in his chamber to discuss the dimension-merging process, but is interrupted by this power cut - the people down below are boiling, the people higher up are freezing. The Goombas are sent out to find the plumbers. Mario and Luigi explore the ventilation shaft in search of Daisy, whom they believe is in the penthouse; they come across a strange if irrelevant sight ("20 feet away a man is sitting with his back against the shaft. He looks exhausted, drained, covered in dirt and sweat. There's an automatic pump gun cradled in his lap and he's picking shards of glass from his naked, bloodied feet. When he turns to look at them he looks exactly like BRUCE WILLIS.") before arriving in the propaganda department. They realize that they're in the wrong tower.
They make their way to the roof and uproot a large TV antenna and use it as a bridge across, Goombas firing at them with flamethrowers. They make it across and leap through the window of the cell containing Daniella and the other missing Brooklyn girls. Koopa, Lena and Daisy head off in a helicopter to the portal so they can begin merging the dimensions. The brothers break down a door and the brothers sneak into the command centre where Bloober is - they find out where Koopa and Daisy are, though Hark approaches from behind, armed with a gun; he disobeys Bloober's order to fry the brothers and blasts him instead. Mario, aware that Hark is on their side, orders him to lead the Brooklyn girls out to Toad's sludge-gulper. The brothers escape the building by riding a mattress down the frozen ventilation pipe.
Lena and Koopa attempt to insert the crystal into the meteorite chamber (near the portal chamber), but the dimensional energy catapults them across the room, though visions and minor elements of both Dinoyawk and Brooklyn do flicker in and out of both dimensions. Mario and Luigi arrive while Daisy inserts the crystal using the larger end - this effectively cracks the meteorite, causing the chamber to rumble and become unstable. Daisy and Luigi escape back to the portal room, but Mario and Koopa are sucked into a limbo between dimensions; Lena is killed in a rockfall.
Luigi, Daisy, Spike, Iggy and the Brooklyn girls escape through the portal back to Brooklyn, and after a brief fight in limbo, Mario and a fully-regressed reptilian Koopa materialise on Brooklyn Bridge. Looking for a weapon, Mario remembers the Bob-Omb Toad gave him, and deploys it. Koopa ensnares him with his long, reptilian tongue and prepares to devour him, but the Bob-Omb falls from a higher precipice into his mouth, giving Mario the opportunity to kick off the bridge, where he explodes.
A block party is held, hosted by Eddie Scapelli, who is most gracious of Mario for rescuing his sister, and has presented him with a state-of-the-art custom-built plumbing truck. They're greeted by two Japanese executives, who wish to buy the rights to their adventure. Mario modestly responds: "Look, all that happened was, there was a job to do and we did it. We're back in business an' any future jobs -- large or small - ourselves and our operatives will be glad to handle it." The final shot is of the Mario brothers' new van, with Iggy and Spike wearing fresh new uniforms, now employed in their service.
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