The Super Mario Bros. Movie Super Review That Killed Captain Lou Albano
Who the fuck thought a Super Mario Bros. movie was a good idea? Nearly every game revolves around an Italian plumber curbstomping brown turd-things and tripping balls on mushrooms and feathers and stars, all in an effort to save an inept princess from some horrifying half-turtle, half-dragon abomination in a gothic castle. It would make more sense to direct a full, page-by-page adaptation of the Bible than a Super Mario Bros. movie, if only because all those miracles and revelations seem so much more down-to-earth than game levels set in chocolate forests and soda pop lakes. But apparently I’m some kind of crazy person by early 90s standards, as Hollywood decided we needed a live-action version of pixilated fat men jumping on things, except darker and edgier.
Enter the Super Mario Bros. Movie, an abortion put to film about two out on their luck Italian plumbers (racially typecast with Englishman Bob Hoskins and Colombian-American John Leguizamo) who stumble upon an alternate universe where all the dinosaurs went after a magical space meteor hit the planet and did magical space rock magic to the time-space continuum. Tracking their kidnapped romantic interest to this dinosaur dystopia, the titular Mario Bros. discover that dinokind has evolved just as humans have, and built a really shitty replica of Manhattan as their crowning cultural achievement. Well, that and building a machine that can de-evolve organisms in a hilariously blatant misunderstanding of Darwin’s biological theories.
Nevertheless, as ridiculously confused as the flick rendered me, I have to say it took a mighty amount of balls to actually fund this big screen bomb. Not that I find that a positive, but it says something about the film industry when there was a time you could walk into a board room, pop Super Mario World on the projector, and convince a bunch of deluded investors that this is what the future of contemporary cinema needs. And somewhere, one of these investors must look at the never-ending crop of shitty video game movie adaptations, and feel some twang of nostalgia for being one of the first people to say “Yes, we need a motherfucking Mario Bros. movie! Now, get me another hooker!”
But who am I to nitpick the logistics of a film that looked like it was cooked up after a major cocaine binge at a Hollywood studio? Video games aren’t about art, damnit, they’re about looking cool! So cool that depressingly bad 90s CGI is used to render King Koopa as he devolves back into a dinosaur or render the Mario Bros. as they skip dimensions by turning into humanoid Rice Krispies clouds. Not to mention the hyper-realistic depiction of the Goombas, respectfully transformed here into autistic, Rain Man-esque lizardmen with tiny heads instead of whatever the hell Goombas are supposed to be in the games. Or how enemy mainstay the Koopa turtles have been degraded into fast-talking Manhattan stereotypes and surly reptilian New Yorkers who pack rocket launchers in response to petty thieves, and tend to waste the nights away dancing to rejected Top 40 dance tracks. And most of all, let’s not forget that we’re watching a live-action version of freaking Mario Bros., the game where you grow green toad-horse monsters by having them eat every enemy on screen! As much as I would like to complain about how ridiculous this movie looks, I’m not even sure if I want to contemplate what a straight adaptation would entail.