What Do Italian Fans Think of the Super Mario Bros. Movie?



Written by: Valeria Girardi

Posted: June 15, 2018


Italian pop culture writer Valeria Girardi discusses the Italian reception for Super Mario Bros.: The Movie. Girardi had previously written Super Mario fa ritorno sul grande schermo dal lontano 1993: il nuovo film sarà davvero un successo? for Italian website Pokémon Millennium.



Super Mario Bros. is one of Nintendo's flagship titles, in which a mustachioed plumber wearing red overalls plays the hero and (not surprisingly) the mascot ̶ or rather, the most successful mascot the Japanese company has ever had. It is impossible to find someone who does not know him, or who has never seen him around, immortalized in some cheap gadgets or posters or ads, or who never grasped references about him in other unexpected films, hilarious comics or in just random video games.

Nintendo has strangely decided to create Mario giving him Italian features and origins. Its bizarre pronunciation and its unique appearance make Mario look like a chubby Italian acrobat made of pixel, who is greatly appreciated by fans of all ages all over the world.

Well, it seems he really has the right stuff to be an actor, doesn’t he? And he was an actor indeed, some years ago. Twenty-five years ago, to be exact. In 1993. Some think his movie was a total disaster, while others definitely loved it. But what about the Italians? What do they think about the movie starring their fellow countryman in human form?


The Italian Release of the Movie


Mojo Nixon


DVD cover art for the Italian release of Super Mario Bros.


The Italian version of the Super Mario Bros. movie was released on VHS in 1994, a year after the movie made its appearance in the American theatres. In fact, Italian fans did not have the opportunity to watch the movie in theatres, as it was only distributed on VHS and broadcasted by national broadcasting companies in free-to-air television channels some years later.

Besides the little delay in publication of the Italian adaptation of the movie (which is quite comprehensible after all), Super Mario Bros. is a victim of censorship abuse, or rather, of vivid imagination abuse, perpetrated by using controversial film adaptation strategies. For this reason, some significant differences occur between the Italian and the American version of the movie.

First of all, the entire ending of the Italian release has been cut for unknown reasons. The Italian release has in fact an incomplete ending, as all the final scenes are not included into the “happy ending”. There is no King’s (re)evolution to human form, no goodbye to Daisy, no going back to Brooklyn, nor sequel precursor with the Princess asking for help to Luigi and Mario again: the Italian movie just ends with the Goombas dancing in line. Then, a mysterious wild Mario’s cap logo appears and introduces the credits.

Secondly, even the end credits have been altered, with the inclusion of random scenes from the whole movie in the background, and with Roxette's song "Almost Unreal" replaced with "Speed of Light" performed by Joe Satriani.

Thirdly, the short sequence after the credits has been removed too. In the original version there is in fact a post-credits scene, where two Japanese businessmen propose making a video game based on Iggy and Spike, who decide to call the video game “The Super Koopa Cousins”. This whole part is not maintained in the Italian film adaptation.

Another remarkable difference between the two releases concerns the Italian dubbed dialogs. In the Italian release, all the references about the Italian origins of Mario and Luigi are lost. The original accents of the actors (Luigi has a Latino-American accent, but still…) are not maintained, some jokes are translated in a total different way, and some lines are re-invented by the Italian translators. Now, far be it from me to argue with the adaptation strategies made by professionals, but this release can actually be considered less enjoyable compared to the English release.

And it is not over yet. There is one more interesting tidbit to tell, which is that even the Super Mario Bros. logo has been altered in the Italian version of the movie. Most of you have probably seen the original one, with a sharp rectangular blue metallic font. Well, the Italian logo is different, as it has been totally reinvented: it has in fact a softer and rounded yellow font, with Super Mario’s red cap on the top (the one which appears before the end credits). That is a very nice logo, to be honest, but the reason of this drastic change is still unknown. Ah, old Italian movie adaptations are so weirdly fanciful!


Critics and Reviews


Mojo Nixon


Dennis Hopper as King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.


Now then, given the fact that Italian fans have seen a “different” version of the film, what do they actually think of the Super Mario Bros. movie? Take a look at the critic of MyMovies.it:

“[…]This is the first film inspired by a video game (there were only animated cartoons inspired by Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. at that time), which is partially praised by the public (although it achieves lower results than expected), and which has disappointed the critics. The collaboration of Roland Joffé has especially disappointed the critics because of the direction his career seemed to take with this shallow film (he was in fact warmly praised for the themes characterizing his early films City of Joy, The Killing Fields and The Mission), a film which was made purely for entertainment.


Despite the spectacular appearance and the objective limitations and fragmentation of the screenplay, the film boasts admirable actors and the eccentric cinematography of Dean Semler, who won an Oscar for Dances with Wolves. Semler is able to enrich the film magnificently, using dark tones (the same of Blade Runner) and blending them perfectly into the Super Mario Bros. semi-parodistic structure, which is based on the surrealistic and fabulous adventure-plot that characterizes the typical Japanese "monster movies"[…].”


Mojo Nixon



In a nutshell, the Italian critical reaction was pretty negative. But what about the fans? Do they really agree with the critics? Review-wise, it emerges that the movie is good-rated on some sites, but poorly-rated on others. Here we have some extracts from the (long) reviews on MyMovies.it:








The Italian website FilmTV shows the same low rating:


Mojo Nixon



These are the reviews:










On the contrary, on Amazon.it the DVD has a good rating:


Mojo Nixon



Take a look at these reviews:











In conclusion, as I stated before, someone thinks this movie is a total disaster, someone definitely loves it. And that is exactly how Italian fans, viewers and critics have received this movie over the years. There are the keen fans who recognize all the efforts the directors made realizing the film (and/or optimistic fans who recognize that “adaptation” is not a synonym of “identical”) on the one side, and the fierce haters who had a look at it on the X-ray only to track down any relevant and discreditable flaw on the other side.

However, it is also important to point out that the movie is not so famous here, in Italy. Not many people have watched it, and in recent days the movie has been consigned to oblivion — sad but true; even the national broadcasting companies stopped to broadcast it some years ago! But all the people who watched Super Mario Bros. in their childhood will never forget it. No matter if they enjoyed the movie or if they firmly disliked it. Once you watch it, you cannot forget it, for better or for worse.

That is only fair, after all. It is impossible to please everybody, and the mixed picture made of the different and opposing opinions that people have about the film, also helped to amplify the resonance of Super Mario Bros. across the years. It is also because of this particular situation it has reached the reputation of “’90s cult movie”. A cult movie that one should defend and enhance, as Ryan Hoss and Steven Applebaum are doing with their incredible Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive website.

And this is even more important now, considering that the forthcoming new film in collaboration with Nintendo and Illumination Entertainment has been officially announced. Because if it is true that the world is full of little Super Marios made of cartoon features, there is (and probably will be) only one Super Mario in flesh and blood: an odd Italian-American plumber who lives in Brooklyn with his young brother and who is too busy hating Scapelli. --Valeria Girardi






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