Super Mario Bros.
Rated: PG :: Released: 28 May 1993
Directors: Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton, Roland Joffe and Dean Semler :: Starring: Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper
By James D. Deaux IV
09 April 2007 — James: Welcome to another riveting edition of Tranquil Tirades. I am the host with no known boundaries to the amount of sarcasm I can spew, James Deaux.
Guest: Thank you for having me. Or should I be cursing your name for dragging me back? Either way, it's too late. I am the co-host with the co-most, Dubbers, and on this evening, Mr. Deaux and I will be discussing the movie that started the trend of video game
films abortions: Super Mario Bros.
James: Indeed, Super Mario Bros. was the very first film directly adapted from a video game franchise. God, is that ever sad to say. But hey, at least we know which movie to blame for the road to hideousness that was (and in most cases, still is) the video game movie.
Guest: It's hard to look back on that fateful day in 1993. You have to wonder what would have become of the video game movie genre if this one could have just had, you know, something to do with the game it was based on.
James: What? You mean the Mushroom Kingdom isn't a decaying urban wasteland full of corrupt policemen driving bumper car / bulldozer amalgamations, and tacky election posters stuck to every imaginable crevice and orifice visible to the naked eye?
Guest: Not last I checked. Perhaps there was a level I missed. A quick check of Wikipedia says that this is a movie "loosely based on the popular video game of the same name." That's like saying Two Girls One Cup was loosely based on Disney's Aladdin.
James: I'll get back to the character butchering shortly. (Believe me, I have plenty to say regarding that.) The first thing I have to really draw attention to is the horrific acting. John Leguizamo (Luigi) was the worst of the lot, but it's not like anyone else was much better. Early every line uttered by Leguizamo made me want to stab my eardrum with a corkscrew and slowly twist. Twist. Twist. I seriously can't decide if this or Double Dragon had worse acting. Even Dennis Hopper (King Koopa), a tremendous actor, was terrible here. I once read a story that Bob Hoskins (Mario) was sitting in his trailer with Leguizamo and he looked at the script and asked, "What the hell were we thinking?" Indeed, Bob. What the hell were you thinking?
Guest: At least Double Dragon had Alyssa Milano, and if you squinted really hard while spinning, you could forget that she looked like a backup dancer for TLC. But perhaps Mr. Hoskins was of the thought that if he got the worst possible acting gig of his career out of the way quickly, everything after that point would have to, invariably, be better. He ended up in Spice World, so the jury is still out on that one.
James: I haven't seen Spice World, so I'll have to leave you to ponder that one. I have a question for you, oh video game sage. Did you know that there is both a King Koopa and a Bowser in the land of the Mushroom Kingdom?
Guest: You don't say?
James: I do! They are two separate entities, and one has devolved into what amounts to coagulated phlegm!
Guest: Which brings me to a random thought. Some food for thought, if you will, Mr. Deaux. The King was de-evolved to a fungus of sorts, correct?
James: That's what I gathered from this muddled festival of insanity.
Guest: Princess Daisy is his daughter. They live in a land where everyone is either a reptile or a descendant of fungi. Luigi wants to, I'm assuming, make dirty love with Daisy — who is either a reptile or a fungus. Now, I knew that Luigi had some problems, don't get me wrong, but hardcore bestiality is not the answer. And this was a kids' movie!
James: I'll do you one better. Luigi is supposed to be a plumber. (Okay, he's not much of one, but hear me out.) Wouldn't the removal of fungus logically be a regular part of his job? Therefore, shouldn't he be considered a genocidal psychopath to this culture of reptilian reprobates?
Guest: I think I saw a piece on the Discovery Channel about that. To recap, so far: Super Mario Bros. is a video game in which Mario goes through the Mushroom Kingdom to save Princess Peach from a spiked turtle named Bowser. Super Mario Bros. the movie is about a genocidal fetishist who goes through a Z-level dystopian dimension that's supposed to be more primitive (but somehow is more futuristic) in order to engage in dirty love with what is most likely a piece of plant life.
James: You're almost right, except that fungi aren't plants. But other than that, spot on. So, speaking of the wildlife of greater Detroit... er, excuse me, Mushroom Kingdom, what the hell did they do to Yoshi? He looked like refried hell.
Guest: I knew that, just testing your... um... biology knowledge. Or something. As for Yoshi, okay, so they looked at a video game sprite, which is, for all intents and purposes, a cartoon, and thought that instead of, oh, I don't know, making the movie a cartoon, they would, among other things, decide to take a discarded prop from Land of the Lost and use it for Yoshi. And they made Toad — the one guy in the story that is actually fungus — an... actually, I don't know what the Goombas were supposed to be .
James: I think that they, along with all the other assorted reptilian freak show rejects were experiments from Jim Henson's secret underground lair gone horribly awry. I can't think of any other reason they would ever make things that stupid looking. However, you have led me into what I think is my main problem with the movie: this movie never should have been made, period. Super Mario Bros. is arguably the most popular video game franchise in history. But it does not lend itself to a live-action movie. It just doesn't. A cartoon movie, as you said, sure. But not live-action. As we have seen, what results from such an attempt is this steaming pile of compost that you and I suffered through.
Guest: As a cartoon, this should have been a license to print money. Super Mario World had just come out two years earlier. There were three animated series based on the game. Hell, even The Wizard, which was basically just a 90-minute ad for Super Mario 3 did nearly the same amount of money as this movie.
James: True enough. Domestically, this movie barely made half its money back. If you believe Bob Hoskins (and I do), most of the blame can go to the directors. Here's a quote I obtained from Wikipedia:
"The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Bros. It was a nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! Fuckin' nightmare. Fuckin' idiots."
Well, apparently he holds Spice World in a higher regard than Super Mario Bros.
Guest: You know his part in Spice World? He was a stand-in for Ginger Spice. If memory serves, he dressed like a woman. That was officially better than Super Mario Bros. the movie. But poor Dennis Hooper. He's actually been in good movies. While I wouldn't put it on the level of Sir Ben Kingsley in Bloodrayne, it's the same basic idea.
James: I have the utmost respect for Dennis Hopper, but I can't excuse this. I hold him to the exact same blame I gave Michael Madsen and Ben Kingsley for taking part in Bloodrayne. Thing is, though, Bob Hoskins has been in plenty of good movies, too. At least he came out and stated his anger with the whole project.
Guest: Luckily for him, he'll always be the Roger Rabbit guy to most.
Guest: I propose a solution that can save Mr. Hopper's soul, however. It's a radical idea, for sure, but I think he'll be pleased with it. In every future showing of this movie, be it DVD or cable, every time Dennis Hopper is on screen, he's digitally replaced by stock footage of Gamera. When he transforms at the end to fight Mario, we cut to Tokka from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II. Think about it, it will actually make the movie somewhat accurate to the game! Actually, I have an even better idea: take footage from Gamera vs. Zigra and replace Zigra with Bob Hoskins, no new movie would have needed to have been made.
James: I'll pose yet another question: where was Princess Peach? Why was Daisy the female lead here?
Guest: She was busy watching the Gamera cut. Even she knew it was better. Daisy, as a character, didn't even exist back then, let the record show.
James: Don't tell me the video game creators adapted Daisy from the movie.
Guest: Well, there was a Daisy in the Gameboy Super Mario Land in 1989. But the Luigi's girlfriend version made its debut here, yup. Nintendo thought it was a good idea.
James: Anyone who classifies adapting something from the Super Mario Bros. movie as a "good idea" should be kept in a padded room.
Guest: I'm also surprised we haven't seen the obese Big Bertha in more of the games.
James: Was she supposed to be Birdo or something? I seriously can't remember.
Guest: Big Bertha is a fish in the games. Granted, it's a fat fish.
James: Of course.
Guest: One must wonder how a kung fu-esque fight scene with the Hammer Bros. would have played out. Of course, they might have taken the name in the wrong context, and then we would have had "Too Legit to Quit" on the soundtrack.
James: Either that or they would have been Russian twins fighting Mario and Luigi in a barbed wire, steel cage match.
Guest: In Soviet Mushroom Kingdom, brothers hammer you!
James: I'm glad I was able to set that joke up. So, getting back to the subject of this movie (that we have so often diverted from), is there anything you want to bring up that bothers you? Besides the quintessential everything, I mean.
Guest: I will say that I was greatly bothered by the fact that the ending hinted at a sequel.
James: Well, so did Street Fighter, but thankfully, neither one gave birth to a bastard child.
Guest: Street Fighter is getting a reboot that may actually end up worse than the original. And when that happens — Christ help us — we'll be there.
James: I'll keep that in mind for when I need some more ammo for the Tranquil Tirades' Logic Shotgun of Truth and Justice.
Guest: This may be the only occasion in which running out of ammo would be a favorable position. But if we ever decide to do video games, Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game is waiting for us.
James: One has to wonder how we could stretch that into a decent-sized rant, although I think the title of the game alone is enough to joke about for several minutes. However, fear not, I am soon going to expand Tirades to cover video games.
Guest: Saw still supposedly has a video game on the way. It's our civic duty. No amount of Gamera in the world can make that better.
James: Damn right. Well, seeing as how we have completely gone off the original topic, I think it's time to give our parting shots.
Guest: I would not watch this movie again if it were being projected on Kate Beckinsale's naked backside while she was in the middle of telling me how deeply she had fallen in love with me. And if Mrs. Beckinsale is reading this, my stance can be negotiated.
James: I wish I could top that, but I simply don't believe I can. Thank you all for reading our oozing sarcasm. We do it so you can laugh. (And you damn well better have laughed!) I'm James, and this has been another cheerful edition of Tranquil Tirades.
Grade: 10/100 — If you want to be simultaneously bored to tears and annoyed beyond belief, this is just the movie for you.