Picks and Pans Review: Super Mario Bros.

updated 06/21/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/21/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Samantha Mathis, Dennis Hopper, Fiona Shaw, Fisher Stevens

If this were a video game spun off from a movie rather than vice versa, one would say it has decent graphics but isn't playable, fast and flashy, the film has none of the game's peppy charm, just its pointlessness.

Hoskins and Leguizamo are the title characters, Brooklyn plumbers who foray into another dimension to rescue Princess Daisy (Mathis) after Hopper, playing the dinosaur King Koopa, kidnaps her. There's lots of murky scrambling around, threatening and underground crowd scenes, but little in the way of witty or clever writing.

There are none of the game's hidden pleasures, such as booby traps or treasure caches, and the casting is peculiar. Hoskins, whose normal acting style is cartoonish overstatement, seems to be playing it straight. Leguizamo is almost somber. Mathis, in an ideal role for a ravishing young starlet, is almost purposely nonvivacious.

Some colorful villains might have saved the day to some extent. What we have, though, are Hopper, in routine weirdo mode, the negligible Stevens as Hopper's cousin/thug-in-residence and Shaw, upstaging everyone as Hopper's steely henchwoman.(PG)

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