Once or twice a year, something reminds me of that this movie happened. Today, I was reminded of it when I saw an original NES for sale on Craigslist.
I was only eight years old when I first saw the Super Mario Bros. movie. Imagine my excitement: not only were they making a movie about that awesome Mario game I spent so much time playing, the good guy from Roger Rabbit was playing Mario. As we first popped the movie into our VCR and the familiar NES music played over the opening credits, fading into whacky cartoon with talking dinosaurs narrated by Dan Castellaneta (aka Homer Simpson), I was immediately confused.
And that confusion never ceased during the entire 100 minute runtime.
I probably watched the film a dozen times as a kid. I never quite understood what it had to do with the video games that I loved so much, but I tolerated it – maybe even strangely enjoyed it. Now as an adult, I enjoy it for other reasons, mostly because I get a kick out of its campiness, how bizarre the entire script is, and the complete disaster that it turned out to be.
A meteorite somehow splitting the earth into two parallel universes. Dennis Hopper as an OCD, greasy-haired King Koopa. Giant “de-evolved” goombas. Fisher Stevens. The silly backstory for why Mario and Luigi were two Italian plumbers saving a princess.
Imagining the studio execs coming up with all of this as a means of capitalizing on Nintendo’s popularity is even more amusing.
Even more interesting are the almosts of this movie. Roland Joffé (The Mission, The Killing Fields) was the first to propose the film in a studio meeting. Danny DeVito and Harold Ramis were in talks to direct at one point. Tom Hanks was once on board to play Mario with Hoskins being brought on due to being a “more profitable” actor. Oh, the what-ifs.
As it would turn out, the film would bomb making less than $21 million back of its $45 million budget. Critics and gamers alike slammed it. And since then, Hoskins hasn’t spoke very kindly of it or its duo of directors. “The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Brothers,” Hoskins said in a 2007 interview with Guardian. “It was a fuckin’ 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.”
You know what, though? The movie is right here for you to watch in its entirety. See if you can resist.