52- “Super Mario Bros.” #52PickUp

This is it! I saved the ultimate nostalgia film for last; the very first in a long time of high quality video game adaptations, the celebrated 1993 classic:

Catch all the thrills? What the actual fuck?

What can I say about Super Mario Bros. that hasn’t already been said? The film is notorious for being one of the worst movies of all time. It bombed at the box office, completely missed almost every element of its source material, and featured one of the worst film sets in the history of film. But as a kid: I loved it.

That doesn’t mean that I watched it often, but I did rather enjoy myself when it came on. I was never bothered by the fact that the film missed its source material per se, I just saw it as another take on the Super Mario games. I recognized the name Daisy from the Gameboy Super Mario Land games, and they had Toad, Bom-ombs, and Koopa, so it wasn’t all that bad.

But it was, and it still is. Super Mario Bros. had the most insane pair of directors ever: a husband and wife team, Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, made life a living hell for their cast and crew. The duo came to set with their own separate ideas and didn’t swap notes. They would constantly rewrite lines, and at one point, Rocky didn’t think an extra was “dirty enough” so he threw a nearby cup of hot coffee at him.

Yeah. And at one point, the DP quit, and after the second guy signed on, he soon called the first and told him that he regretted taking the job at all.

That being said they were able to cobble together some semblance of a film. But how does it hold up? We’ll get there in that section. For now, let’s look at the list of suckers– er, actors who were a part of the film.

Because we don’t want to discuss the terrifying puppetry. Poor Yoshi.

Bob Hoskins played the Brooklyn plumber, Mario Mario (in fact, the movie took that never-used concept of plumbing from the games as a main conceit of their plot). It wasn’t the best performance, but he gave it his all.  He surprisingly didn’t even know what the movie was based upon until halfway through shooting; his son showed him the game on his NES. He had gone on to say that he and his co-star brother were drunk on set most of the time, and that person is:

John Leguizamo played my favorite Mario brother, Luigi Mario. He did a pretty good job of capturing Luigi’s innocence, but this was all they took from that character. At least they started Luigi and Daisy’s romance, because before this movie, it wasn’t so in the eyes of Mario fans.

Two questions: 1. Photo op? It looks like it’s the first time he’s ever turned this on. 2. Is that Frogger in the background?! Wrong company!

Samantha Mathis played Daisy. She did what she could with the poorly written character. A lot of her lines were relegated to exposition and mostly through behind-the-head ADR. But then again, so was a lot of the movie.

And Dennis freaking Hopper. How Did This Get Made said it best: He essentially played Frank Booth from Blue Velvet as King Koopa, and they’re absolutely right. He must have needed the paycheck.

Oh and then there was Richard Edson and Fisher Stevens as two bumbling idiots (there always has to be some in these type of films…).


Where/ when did I first see it?

I first saw this at the wonderful babysitter, Gigi’s house. It was one of the worst movies I had seen there, but I didn’t know it yet.

Oh come on, Guy! It wasn’t that bad…

How does it hold up?

So the movie’s bad, but it’s not House of the Dead bad, it’s more The Room bad. I would absolutely see this again with a few friends and a lot of drinks; it’s a laughably bad time.


What did I like about it and why?

Back then, I liked that they took a chance and adapted a video game into a film. Currently, that track record is still terrible. Will there ever be a good video game film? Who knows, really.

Now, it’s a fucking hilarious shit show. I’ve been a part of bad shoots that had a surprisingly fun edit, and wonder how the hell it even came together (and I edited those!), but the end result is certainly a piece of cinematic history.

Lessons Learned?

  1. Never complete the meteor that sent the dinosaurs into their own dimension by inserting the missing shard that hangs around Daisy’s neck!
  2. We all miss Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper.
  3. Don’t adapt video game movies.

Bonus: This was my soundtrack for writing this blog: 1234

Where can you see it?

Check out Super Mario Bros. on CanIStream.It? Here, it’s free on YouTube. It’s been up for  eighteen months as of press time, so hopefully this link remains intact.

-Jamie (@GuyOnAWire)


2 thoughts on “52- “Super Mario Bros.” #52PickUp

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