|Tagline still cracks me up|
"Trust the fungus." ~Luigi
I remember almost ten years when I came across Super Mario Bros. at Blockbuster. My parents had warned me that it was no good, but as a big Mario fan I had to see it for personal honor. That night me and my sister watched it and were confused afterward. "What was that?" was ringing in my mind. Ever since that watch, I've always considered it to be one of the worst movies of all time. That was over a decade ago and I was maybe 8. Perhaps watching it now I could have a new-found appreciation for it, or at least like it somewhat. It's important to realize that up until that point when it released in 1993, the games were only up to Super Mario World. No 3D titles had been produced yet. The only real storylines were in the booklets and little pieces of dialogue. With that in mind, could I perhaps see this movie as actually okay, or a unique adaption of the series at that point in time?
No, it's still utter garbage.
As a Mario Bros. adaption.
There are some movies while watching where you're like, "Huh...what were they thinking? Who writes this stuff?" Apparently the idea was to have this film be the real story, with the game itself being the adaption. Huh? Not only was this a terrible idea, what we got was something so incredibly bizarre that one has to wonder if Directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel knew anything about the games at all. Of course, else-worlds adaptions could be interesting, but not here. Imagine yourself a kid in 1993 going to see the big movie of the Super Mario Bros, the heroes in a colorful world where they battle an evil dragon over a lava-filled castle to save the lovely princess. Picture the complete opposite of that and this is what "Super Mario Bros. The Movie" is.
What's also truly a shame is that this was the first theatrical video game movie. Have you wondered why there have been so few since? People are too frightened because of the flop that is the Super Mario Bros. Apparently the late Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo would "get drunk just to make it through the filming process." I suppose it'd be hard not to fall into that with this bizarre feature. So instead of the Mushroom Kingdom where there are beanstalks, happy face clouds, and castles, the idea was to have an alternate dimension of the real world. So throughout the story it's basically set in Brooklyn. How disappointing is that? It's been said that Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto got the idea of the Mushroom Kingdom from Alice in Wonderland. These things are whimsical and fantastical, providing a solid adventure to the player/viewer. None of that is present here in this dark and dreary place. This is immensely disgraceful to the Mario name, because a major part of what makes the games fun is its bright and colorful worlds where you never know what danger will present itself.
One has to wonder what they were thinking when they grabbed classic characters and turned them into something else. For example, take a look at this guy...
Remember good ol' Toad? These little guys are supposed to be the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom. Many are direct helpers of the princess and aid the Mario Bros. The most iconic thing about them is their mushroom head. Does that transition into the film?
Whoa! Who the heck is that? That my friend is supposed to be the character above. From this alone you can tell the director had no care for the source material in the slightest. Let's take a look at another example...
Goombas are the common enemy in the Mario games. The idea is to have the Bros. stomp on these little evil creatures and continue onward. How about the movie?
|Yes, they're human-size|
At this point the director is just grabbing names he's supposed to use and assigning them to to these monstrosities of characters. Still, not everyone is bad. Yoshi was good and the puppet used was fantastic. I am particularly pleased with the fact they didn't forget his elongated tongue ability. One could make an argument he was the best character in the whole movie. Him, or the little Bob-omb that saved the day in the climax. The writing for the characters ranges from okay to downright terrible. Nowhere with anything having the Mario name should a Brother say, "Where's Daisy butt-breath?" Speaking of Daisy, it is truly bizarre that she was used instead of Princess Peach, whom has been the main character throughout all the games. Daisy has only appeared in one game, Super Mario Land. Samantha Mathis doesn't do a bad job with her character, being one of the most likable of the cast.
How about the Mario Bros themselves? I gotta give credit to Bob Hoskins for his portrayal of Nintendo's mascot. Despite not having the greatest script, he really gave it his all for the character, At that point in time in 1993, I could even call his portrayal of Mario "not bad," even solid. John Leguizamo as Luigi fairs decent enough. Why he has no mustache I don't understand, but it's a minor thing I suppose. Unfortunately he's the one subject to the worst lines, from the "Where's Daisy" to the one listed at the top of the review. Still, the relationship established between the two Brothers is very good. If this were another movie with another script, they could have been great adaptations of the iconic plumbers.
We all know who the antagonist of the franchise is...
Bowser is an evil dragon, king of a turtle species called Koopa. In the movie however...
Yes, in the film he's basically a human. Ignoring that for a second, Dennis Hopper doesn't do a terrible job with the character. He's subject to being too much of a cartoony antagonist sometimes, but putting aside the fact this is supposed to be Bowser he isn't too bad. The climax has him turn into a T-Rex, which was cool, but in less than 30 seconds he's reverted to goop. If the Mario Bros. had actually battled him in that form, the film would have at least ended on a high note.
There are so many bizarre scenes that one thinks the directors just wanted to make their movie with Mario names for the characters. For example, the entire dance scene in the bar has no business in Super Mario. The car chase scene isn't reminiscent about what transpires in the games either. And another thing, the soundtrack. After the promising intro using the classic theme, the film quickly succumbs to boring, generic music. It reuses the same theme for the Brothers over and over, which is quite grating and just feels mindless in comparison to the well-put-together themes of the games.
Still, there's a reason why I listed it as garbage "as a Mario adaption" above. Putting that to the side for a second, the film doesn't make for a bad watch on a Saturday afternoon with the family. The worst crime a film can commit is be boring, and one thing Super Mario Bros. is not, is boring. There are no scenes that drag on; it's pretty well paced for the most part. This does not mean it resembles anything resembling a good movie. The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl is a good comparison. That movie is so kid-friendly the writing hurts, but it's still pretty entertaining. Super Mario Bros. is a bizarre movie with some awful writing, but it's too entertaining to put it in the unwatchable category.
Overall, Super Mario Bros. will always remain a peculiar watch. It unfortunately killed video game adaptions before they even began. The decision for it to be basically its own thing was a truly awful choice. Nobody went to the theater for that, they wanted to see their games come to life. The series is all about adventuring through bright, colorful, and dangerous worlds to save the princess from an an evil dragon. Here it's not even a shadow of that. It was exciting when they finally got their red and green outfits on. Sadly, the scene is basically ruined because in the very next one was the elevator. Most of the stuff in this movie is complete opposite of what Mario is supposed to represent. Still, despite that, the film is entertaining, which the American adaption of Godzilla from 1998 couldn't even be. (The two are always fun to compare adaption wise.) SMB is an interesting novelty to check out for sure. It's not one of the worst movies of all time as I thought when I saw it all those years ago, but still not anything resembling quality.