This week we had the pleasure of watching The Super Mario Bros. Movie from ye olde 1993!
This movie is notorious for being the herald of the bad video game movie trend but to be honest I feel like it gets a bit of a hard time!
Let's get into a little background and trivia surrounding the movie before we break it down;
Both Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo were drunk through most of the filming process to get through the bad experience. And Hoskins apparently didnt even know this was based on a game until his son asked what he was filming and then showed him the game on his NES! This sounds like it was a pretty dangerous movie to shoot if I'm honest. Starting with Bob Hoskins breaking his finger in one of the early scenes when the van door slammed by Leguizamo caught it so he's wearing a skin coloured cast for the entire film which I never noticed. He also got and this is a quote “stabbed four times, electrocuted and nearly drowned. And thats just what happened to me.” Leguizamo also reportedly being SO drunk during filming walked out and got hit by a car breaking his leg! So he is also in a leg cast at one point Alternative Castings Tom Hanks was billed to play Luigi originally but due to his film Turner & Hooch in 1989 being a flop he was no longer considered to have box office draw. Danny Devito was also at one point billed to play Mario! Arnold Swarzenegger AND Michael Keaton both also turned down the role to play Koopa too! The main source of contention with this movie seems to stem from its Husband and Wife director duo... Rocky Morton & Annabel Jankel or Yankel... Their weird style is evident if you've seen Max Headroom as they made that!j Bob Hoskins is quoted on saying "It was a f*ckin' 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! F*ckin' nightmare. F*ckin' idiots." And Dennis Hopper added to this in a few other interviews: "It was a nightmare, very honestly, that movie. It was a husband and wife directing team who were both control freaks and wouldn't talk before they made decisions. Anyway, I was supposed to go down there for five weeks, and I was there for 17. It was so over budget." "I made a picture called Super Mario Bros., and my six-year-old son at the time - he's now 18 - he said, 'Dad, I think you're probably a pretty good actor, but why did you play that terrible guy King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.?' and I said, 'Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes,' and he said, 'Dad, I don't need shoes that badly.'" And from everything we've heard above I can see it was obviously a shambles but I don't know if it was just down to the directors and I do kind of feel sorry for them! From what I read the original script had been written to be much more focused on Mario & Luigi being brothers without parents and was centred around a complicated but loving relationship between two brothers. But weeks before shooting was set to begin and all the actors were locked in and the sets were built the studio decided to rewrite the entire film which made the tone not fit anything of what had been completed! The directors were also not allowed to deviate and had to strictly stick to what had been done! So that's a pretty bad situation to be in!
The film itself is a weird flip flop between utter strangeness and strongly visual designed greatness (in it's own way). The first thing I'd noticed was how "scifi" this movie is, for some reason it was hitting me in the Bladerunner & The Fifth Element and as I say in the episode I feel like I'm offending those movies in that comparison... But upon doing some research it turned out that Art Director from Bladerunner was the Production Designer ON THE SUPER MARIO BROS MOVIE.
I was gobsmacked! That's quite a step AND I was impressed that he was that consistent that I'd noticed the style!
If you haven't watched this movie and are only experiencing it through this article and through our episode linked below I do genuinely recommend you see it. Think of it though as a 90's adventure movie and not something that is supposed to be a live action Mario Bros. If anything, and I know Shigeru Miyamoto (THE GUY WHO INVENTED MARIO) agrees with me, this movie tries too hard to pull in as many references as it can. It almost feels like this was an entirely different movie that had its key characters, locations and objects having their names shifted to match the already existing franchise. From what we've heard from the script issues I think this could be correct!
One of the most impressives things in the movie is probably that they managed to work Yoshi into the story, a fresh new character from Nintendo's latest installment Super Mario World which I think was supposed to be a big draw on kids. Probably why the prop dinosaur cost an insane $500,000 to produce! It was that complex of a model that it took a 9 person crew to operate the puppet.
And it's this that shows the film definitely had promise, it must've had some serious early script to have drawn in so many actors and to get the budget it did! I and probably many others would've loved to have seen that version I'm sure... but we got what we got.
The movie is undoubted strange, but at least it's consistently so. It didn't flip flop between things it stayed it's course and arrived at a weirdly fungus-y location. And I enjoyed it.
I do admit that I'm watching this through a lens of nostalgia but even my co-host actually enjoyed this movie somewhat!
I still standby that Bob Hoskins is a great live action Mario Mario, apparently that's his full name and even though John Leguizamo looks nothing like the Luigi we've come to love (he's the better brother in my opinion) he actually does quite a good job at the portrayal of a young and dumb Luigi Mario in love who's trying to save a girl he just met is actually quite fun. Samantha Mathis as Daisy and Dennis Hopper as Koopa both give pretty good portrayals too and all in all tie the group together well! There's definitely very 90s moments and humour and the slapstick stuff from Spike and Iggy could be lost without being missed.
On a final note, this movie has ages MUCH better than some other Video Game Movies. And we'll get to those very soon!
Our two part episode is below!
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