Movie News & Reviews

1993's 'Super Mario Bros.' nonsense

I know I haven't done a Big Awful Friday in a while, but I had arealization. That realization was I can't track down my favoriteterrible movies without dropping $20-100 a pop.

More importantly, you can't plan to see a truly bad movie. Likeflunking out of school, truly bad movies just happen, which is why Iwas delighted the other day to find my friend had bought one of themany things that murdered my childhood, 1993's Super MarioBros.

Bob Hoskins (as Mario) and John Leguizamo (as Luigi) are behind on therent, but that's small potatoes after they're hauled into a paralleldimension where dinosaurs survived to become sentient. These dino-menare ruled by Dennis Hopper (as Koopa), who wants nothing more than tomerge his dimension with ours and rule us uppity mammals like a king.

Super Mario Bros. should have been a raging, boxoffice-destroying success. It had a built-in audience of every man andwoman of my generation, a Mario-frenzied demographic that would marryYoshi if only the Supreme Court weren't a bunch of sissies.

So what happened? How do you blow that franchise love into a millionfragments, feed it to the tumorous family dog, and then take that dogbehind the barn and shoot it? By making the movie adaptation haveabsolutely nothing to do with the video game.

It's true the Mario games didn't have much of a back story at thatpoint. Still, that's no excuse for an insane redux where the meteorthat killed the dinosaurs actually pushed them into another worldwhere they evolved not into talking lizards, but into humans exceptwith goofy haircuts and also rocket-boots.

Then again, there probably wasn't much budget left for creature designafter blowing it all on a spectacularly ugly set. For reasons thatsurely rhyme with "mocaine," designers from the late '80s/early '90sthought it was the height of cool to make genre movies look like theywere filmed inside a garbage bag. Trust me, it's not as pleasantinside one of those as you'd think.

Super Mario Bros. could have salvaged some fan cred with thesmallest of touches, like, say, using the fireball sound effects fromthe game when somebody's shooting fireballs, but why not come up withsome wacky new nonsense instead?

That's pretty much the guiding philosophy of the movie's three writersand four directors. There's something admirable in taking anestablished classic in a bold new direction, but that takes vision,not weak dialogue, horrendous exposition, and an ugly-ugly world. Thevideo game franchise went on. Despite a "Hey, who wants a sequel!"ending, Super Mario Bros. didn't.