I know this may not be the best way to kick off Smash Month, but I felt diving into this movie first things first was the best way to sort of get it out of the way. Now I also want to review this movie as unbiased as possible, but truth be told, I have a lot of nostalgia for this movie because I watched it a lot as a kid. That being said, this movie sucks and deserves to be burned forever.
The first thing I’d like to touch base on is the script and script writing. The last movie I talked about was Resident Evil and I spoke a lot about how that movie didn’t follow the source material very well. Resident Evil is Magnum Opus compared to the pile of garbage that is Super Mario Bros. Now any fan of the video game franchise can tell you, this has almost nothing to do with Super Mario Bros. It’s unbelievable the amount of mistakes and in-continuity that this movie provides. Here’s my theory about this movie. Originally, the script was something completely different. Perhaps a post-apocalyptic film or even something of the dystopian-future type. In an effort to make more money and gain more attention from interested studios, names were crossed, plot was mildly changed and a few references to an excellent game series were uncomfortably shoved in. So do I believe this movie was an adaptation of the video game? Hell no I don’t.
So the movie starts off with two Brooklyn plumbers (Mario & Luigi) struggling to make a living, when all of a sudden, a beautiful girl named Daisy enters Luigi’s life. Luigi and Daisy have one date, which then of course makes her well being his sole responsibility. First, let’s stop here for a second. When Luigi and Daisy go on their date, they are accompanied by Mario and his girlfriend Daniella… DANIELLA?! Who the fuck….
Shortly after their date, Daisy shows Luigi some weird dinosaur bones and she is kidnapped by Iggy and Spike, the buffoonish henchmen of the evil dictator, King Koopa. They bring her into a parallel dimension known as the Mushroom Kingdom. A colorless and poverty stricken city covered in fungus. Okay, we gotta stop again here. Why the hell is this place so colorless? I don’t know if these people ever played the Super Mario Bros video game EVEN ONCE but the Mushroom Kingdom appears to be rather colorful and full of several different types of terrain, where in this movie, it’s explained that outside the city, the Mushroom Kingdom is entirely desert. Alrighty film makers, you do you I guess.
Surprisingly, the movie does actually have a couple of good performances from Bob Hoskins (Mario) and Dennis Hopper (King Koopa) which leads me to my next point. Dennis Hopper does an excellent job of playing an evil tyrant, but for the love of god, King Koopa was never a human being. He was also never a Tyrannosaurus Rex (as the movie constantly tries to explain). He was a koopa. It’s right there in the name. If you want to do this franchise as a film at least get the character’s species correct. Next we have the goombas. Standing at 7 feet tall. Wait what? Weren’t goombas very small creatures? Again, nobody on the set of this played these games.
Getting back to the story, Mario and Luigi learn more about the world of the Mushroom Kingdom and the evil doings of King Koopa and attempt to stop him with the help of Iggy and Spike after they convert over to the good guys side. Now this might be knit-picking but there is one thing I found strange. It is explained that the Mushroom Kingdom has one city and the rest of it is endless desert BUT there are two instances in this film where common-folk say lines like “You new to town?” and “You’re not from around here, are you?” . I’d like to believe that in a world with one city, these types of expressions would never exist, nor would the logic behind someone being from anywhere else exist. It’s just sort of strange.
At the climax of the film, Mario & Luigi infiltrate Koopa’s tower (which legitimately replaces the World Trade Center in New York later in the film) and a final fight of good against evil takes place in the middle of the Mushroom Kingdom. Daisy finds out she’s actually a princess (Surprise) and decides to stay in the Mushroom Kingdom to rule and help bring the kingdom back to it’s former glory.
Although the script and set were obviously the two biggest issues of this film, there was also some pretty bad editing fuck-ups. Several times through out the film, the visual and audio editing seemed to just be a little off. For instance: At one point, the character of Toad (Horribly portrayed by Mojo Nixon) is playing a song for the Mario Bros. Near the end of his tune, two police cars pull up. As soon as they appear, Toad’s song gets significantly louder. The police then arrest the trio and as Mario is shouting about having not done anything, you can see that the words he’s saying don’t actually match the way his mouth is moving. Now these kind of screw ups would be a lot more forgivable if this was an indie film with some edge, but this was a major Summer blockbuster with a budget of almost 50 million dollars. I refuse to believe that adequate editing services was not within their budget.
Overall, there’s some goofy humor in this movie that I still enjoy strictly cause I remember enjoying it as a kid, but the source material seems so lost in the translation from video game to movie. The movie appears to have very limited ties to it’s source material, the performances are abysmal (with the exception of Hoskins and Hopper), the set doesn’t seem to match the general mood of the mushroom kingdom and the movie is just plain… stupid.