Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros.

Way back in 1993, the popularity of Super Mario led to Hollywood’s first big-budget video game adaptation. The live-action “Super Mario Bros.” starred Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi, two down-on-their-luck plumber brothers picking up odd jobs in Brooklyn. Largely shot in an abandoned cement factory in North Carolina, the movie was mostly set not in the hyper-colored Mushroom Kingdom, but in a grody, dystopian alternate version of New York called Dinohattan, ruled over by the maniacal dictator King Koopa (Dennis Hopper). Sticky, elastic fungus plays a key role in the plot. It looked and felt nothing like the video games.

To Rocky Morton, who directed the movie with Annabel Jankel, that was the point. Morton and Jankel were British music video filmmakers who also had been behind the creation of the pseudo-computer-generated TV show host Max Headroom. Morton and Jankel’s agent had sent them a Mario Bros. movie script by the “Rain Man” co-writer Barry Morrow. Dismissing that screenplay as too cute, Morton pitched another idea: a darker, grittier Mario Bros. origin story.

Today, “Super Mario Bros.” has been the subject of something of a reappraisal, achieving a surprising cult status in the process. Its listing on the cinephile movie rating site Letterboxd is accompanied by a host of passionate, discerning reviews. “Super Mario Bros.” is “film-literate, daring, political, and unapologetically insane,” wrote the user Zeke Knott. While awaiting the coming fan-made documentary, “Trust the Fungus: Bob-Omb to Cult Classic,” fans can listen to a podcast dedicated to a minute-by-minute dissection of the movie, or visit the National Videogame Museum in Frisco, Texas, which is holding an exhibition on it. This month, Nitehawk Cinemas in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, will screen “Super Mario Bros.” as part of Re-Consider This!, a series showcasing misunderstood masterpieces.

But even the most ardent fans will admit that “Super Mario Bros.” is kind of a mess.

But it’s a fantastic and inspired mess with densely artificial sets concocted by the “Blade Runner” production designer David L. Snyder; cartoonish costumes by Joseph Porro (who most recently worked on “The Mandalorian”); and a lunatic score by the composer Alan Silvestri. Elsewhere, Patrick Tatopoulos’s creature designs anticipate his work on “Independence Day.”

— Darryn King, The New York Times

Super Mario Bros.

Sat April 20, 7:30 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium

United Kingdom, United States of America; 1993; in English; 104 min, 35mm

Screenplay: Ed Solomon, Director: Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton, Screenplay: Parker Bennett, Terry Runte, Cast: Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Samantha Mathis, Fisher Stevens

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