So once again we have survived.

Super Mario Bros.

a survey of summer movies that just didn’t catch on

“Are you tellin us that you’re gonna arrest a guy for bein a plumber? Get outta here!”

May 28, 1993

Okay, look. I’m not claiming to know a better way to make a live action movie based on a video game about an Italian plumber eating mushrooms, punching bricks and murdering hundreds and hundreds of turtles but also collecting coins while trying to rescue a princess. And seeing how directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel reimagine the world of the famous Nintendo game as a dystopic Manhattan in an alternate dimension where people evolved out of dinosaurs is the closest thing to fun this movie has to offer.

But still. What the hell? It’s a question that must be asked.

Bob Hoskins (UNLEASHED) recycles his Eddie Valiant accent to play Mario Mario, a Brooklyn plumber struggling to make ends meet with the help of his brother/apprentice/adopted son(?) Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo, JOHN WICK). The market is dominated by a rival plumbing company called Scapelli, who are also for some reason the evil developers trying to force university archaeologist Daisy (Samantha Mathis, THE PUNISHER) off of a promising dig. When the Marios try to help Daisy the three of them jump into a magic portal to the other dimension, where the openly evil, lizard-tongued, weird-haired President Koopa (Dennis Hopper in his role between RED ROCK WEST and TRUE ROMANCE!) wants the sliver of meteorite that Daisy wears around her neck because he can use it to conquer the mammal dimension, where she was spirited away in an egg when she was born because she is the princess.

Production designer David L. Snyder was the art director of BLADE RUNNER, and cinematographer Dean Semler (who replaced Peter Levy [PREDATOR 2, RICOCHET]) shot THE ROAD WARRIOR and BEYOND THUNDERDOME , but here they came up with one of these sort-of-impressive-but-chaotic-and-ugly soundstage world-building messes indicative of an out-of-control production.

The set (built in a cement factory in North Carolina) depicts one cluttered block of an alternate New York (“Dinohattan”) full of Big Brother-esque Koopa billboards and weird, sort of punk fashions. Cops wear spiked shoulder pads, possibly as a vague allusion to the spiked turtle shells of the game. A few people have dinosaur-inspired makeup kinda like background extras in Star Trek or NIGHTBREED. One lady pushes a large egg in a stroller. Tiny puppet dinosaurs hang around like vermin, fighting over green slime.

Perhaps due to a lack of fossil fuels, the cars are all electric, powered by sparking bumper car style runners. The police cars have bulldozer shovels on the front. Many areas are draped in webs of fungus, which we hear are what remains of the original King, Daisy’s father, after Koopa had his way with him. Sometimes the fungus tries to help by giving Luigi tiny versions of things from the game: a bomb with windup legs, a bullet with a face.

Hopefully some day they’ll remake this movie and it will still be like this except it will star parkour guys and they’ll be jumping and climbing all over the place. Hoskins was not particularly known for his high leaps, so they work jumping into the movie by having the brothers eventually get hold of some big ass motorized spring boot things they put on that make them jump high. So they use that for a little bit.

They are Mario Bros., we get that, but are they really Super Mario Bros.? I would argue that because they are regular sized in the movie and never turn giant, they are not Super Mario Bros. We all know that a basic element of the game is Mario eating a mushroom that turns him giant and then he can smash bricks when he jumps up and punches them. Here he never eats a mushroom or turns giant or punches bricks, but there is one part where he falls down and accidentally bounces off a sheet of fungus like it’s a trampoline.

There is a princess, but not named Peach or Toadstool. There are no bricks, castles, flagpoles, dungeons. There are fireballs, shot out of government issue police flamethrowers. And certain design elements maybe represent venus fly traps?


Koopa has a machine that he sits people in and with the twist of a dial can cause them to evolve or devolve (usually the latter), and he uses it to turn people into his army of “Goombas,” which in the game are mushrooms with feet and eyes, but here they are dumb giant people with wide shoulders and tiny animatronic turtle-ish heads. He does this to Toad, who in the game is a Mario associate who looks like a mushroom, but here is a harmonica playing busker with a spiral shaved into his hair and played by “Elvis is Everywhere” singer Mojo Nixon, who told an interviewer for the Super Mario Brothers Movie Archive websight that he knew the casting director and she said, “Look, they want Tom Waits—but I told them I could get you for half-price.”


Also there are these scary guys who hose off the prisoners in Koopa’s giant jail:


and I don’t know but I thought maybe they represented these guys?


It would’ve been pretty easy to get more things from the game in there. I wondered why the portal between dimensions wasn’t a big green pipe. There is a part where they go through a giant pipe, but it’s all frozen and they’re on a mattress sliding through like Olympic bobsledding. So I’m skeptical as to whether they thought they were referencing the pipes in the game, or if they just knew that GOONIES waterslide scene = fun adventure. Nobody knows.

So what were Jankel and Morton – who reportedly didn’t even want Mario and Luigi to wear their trademark red and green pants – thinking? Research verifies that it was not weird carelessness, but an intentional choice to create a “real” story representing events that the game itself could’ve been loosely based on. In an interview with Nintendo Life, Morton explained that an earlier script written by Tom S. Parker and Jim Jennewein (RICHIE RICH) for director Greg Beeman (LICENSE TO DRIVE, MOM AND DAD SAVE THE WORLD) “was like more of a direct lift from the game. And I thought well, we all know the game, wouldn’t it be interesting to create a game that was kind of darker and was the ‘true’ story. And, you know, in history, myths get distorted — this would be the same thing, the origin of the myth, and then it got reinterpreted by the Japanese — like, you see, at the end the two executives from Nintendo come at the end to to talk to Mario and Luigi, and they tell the story of their adventure verbally and then [Nintendo] kind of writes it down and gets it all wrong, and that’s why the game is different from the film.”

In other words, What if the first movie based on a video game – wasn’t based on a video game?

It sounds good, and I mean, I get it, but who the fuck wouldn’t want to make a movie where Bob Hoskins eats a leaf and it makes him grow a raccoon tail that he wiggles around and it makes him fly? This is one of the biggest missed opportunities in cinema history.

While the artistical lack of fidelity to source material is the aspect that seems to puzzle people the most, it’s not at all the problem.

“The reaction from the studios was that the script that was written was too dark and too adult,” Morton said, “and it should be rewritten — or dewritten, as I called it — to a lower level, adding stupid gags and making it more childlike, which is what happened. It got rewritten about two or three weeks before principal production, so by the time the script came in we were ready to shoot.”

This is one reason why, according to many interviews with cast and crew, the directors seemed to be in over their heads (or were “fuckin’ idiots” according to Hoskins).

“The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Brothers. 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.”

Maybe if the directing duo had been allowed to stay true to their vision, or had known how to keep things more under control, or were better filmatists, their idea might’ve worked. I mean, I don’t know how an “adult” version of Koopa’s plan here would be a good story, but for sure the broad so-called humor is a constant stumbling block to enjoyment.

There is one kind of funny joke. It happens at the beginning, when Daisy and Luigi are in the cave, and the Scapellis sabotage the sump pump, causing a plumbing emergency.

“Thank God you’re here!” says Daisy. “I mean–”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you’re a plumber, right?”

“Oh yeah! I know exactly what to do!”

(Cut to him across town asking Mario for help.)

Most of the movie feels more like this: the Marios are bickering about something while the score by Alan Silvestri (FORREST GUMP) keeps waving its arms in our faces saying Hey, do you know this is whimsical? Hey, this is whimsical, right? Uh, excuse me, hey, I’m trying to – this is whimsical, okay? This is whimsical right here. We’re all having so much fun.

And then they fall off of something or swing on a thing or are in a thing that’s going really fast and they  go “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

Iggy (Fisher Stevens, UNDISPUTED) and Spike (Richard Edson, DO THE RIGHT THING), Koopa’s henchmen cousins, employ a “funny” acting style reminiscent of Bulk and Skull in MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS. Dressed like doormen at an Italian-American dance club, they do the world’s most obvious bumbling-and-bickering-and-whacking-each-other routine before “evolving” into “smart” people who speak clearly and use show-offy vocabulary. I read that they convinced the directors during filming to do that instead of turn them into Goombas, and that they also improvised a rap (mercifully cut from the movie).


Hoskins and Leguizamo (who, according to Leguizamo’s memoir, took to downing shots of scotch together between scenes) fair better, but not enough better. Mario is the macho, abrasive New Yorker stereotype, leaving Luigi to be the point of sympathy for the audience. But he’s such a little boy in his courting of Daisy (he gets nervous and talks gibberish to her, ha ha) that it’s hard to respect him.

I’m kind of more interested in Mario’s relationship with Bertha (Francesca P. Roberts, HARD TO KILL), literal and figurative bouncer of the Boom Boom Bar who mugs him of the meteorite fragment so he has to get it back through seduction. I don’t really understand why she helps him after he leads her on like that, but she seems like a good friend to have. She loans them those jumping boots, for example.

In the club, and on the end credits, George Clinton sings a cover of “Walk the Dinosaur.” It got me thinking – what’s with Clinton and movie bombs? He did a song with Thomas Dolby that’s on the end of HOWARD THE DUCK. And he did a new version of “Flash Light” for MUPPETS FROM SPACE which did not make back its budget. He also has a song in Alex Winter’s FREAKED, which isn’t in the same category, but I think it was supposed to be a bigger movie than it was, because I remember they had toys at Suncoast Motion Picture Company. On the other hand he had a cameo in HOUSE PARTY, and that was a huge hit. And GOOD BURGER probly did okay. The lesson is, give him a cameo.

Anyway, “It was a night like this, 40 million years ago” is a great opening lyric. And Roxette, DiVinyls, Megadeth and Marky Mark are also on the soundtrack.

A weird thing I totally forgot about this movie is that at the end the fungus de-devolves into the Fungus King for a brief scene, and it’s Lance Henriksen! This was done in post-production, and Semler wasn’t available, so what the hell, they called in Laszlo Kovacs (EASY RIDER) to shoot it. According to Not Bad For a Human, while Henriksen was sitting in the throne he was checking out a woman on set, then realized she was the one who painted his motorcycle in STONE COLD. He asked her to dinner and later married her.

* * *

–actual screenplay note by co-director Annabel Jankel

It was Roland Joffe, Academy Award nominated director of THE KILLING FIELDS and THE MISSION, who convinced Nintendo to license the movie rights to their most popular game. A video game had never been made into a movie, but this one was such a pop culture phenomenon that it seemed like a no-brainer. Joffe and his company initially tried to get Danny DeVito to star and direct. They offered Koopa to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then they had Tom Hanks signed to play Mario, but decided Hoskins was more bankable. Whoops!

(I mean, he’s probly better for the part though.)

Morton and Jankel were mainly known for directing commercials and music videos. They founded Cucumber Studios in the ’70s, an animation company whose credits include:

“Accidents Will Happen” by Elvis Costello

and “Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club

Their most notable credit was as the co-creators (with writer George Stone) of Max Headroom. They directed the British TV movie Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into the Future as well as his subsequent music video/talk show, but had nothing to do with the American TV series which, unlike me and many others, they don’t seem to have liked. “I believe that it wasn’t the timing of the show that led to it’s demise, but its fluffiness,” Jankel told Den of Geek , “reworked for a US audience, whereby Max was homogenized into something less provocative and thus less worth watching.”

Though their one theatrical feature (D.O.A. starring Dennis Quaid) had flopped, I can see why Joffe thought they were a good fit. Their work was edgy and creative while existing at the intersection between commercialism, art and technological experimentation. They must’ve talked a good game and they had a weird idea of how to do this and he decided to let them go for it. Sort of.

Morton and Jankel spearheaded the “darker,” less video game based vision of SUPER MARIO BROS., but the movie’s strangeness was also the product of bringing in a bunch of different writers to try a bunch of different approaches. According to Morton, everyone signed on because of a script by Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais (THE COMMITMENTS, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, THE BANK JOB).

(By the way, one of their drafts included a weird guest appearance:


If they ever did offer that cameo to Bruce I guess he chose the one in LOADED WEAPON 1 instead.)

But then (in the tradition of COOL WORLD) the producers surprised everybody with last minute rewrites. The finished movie credits Parker Bennett & Terry Runte (MYSTERY DATE) and Ed Solomon (BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, MEN IN BLACK). Not to cast aspersions, but the first two also have a credit for “additional story and dialogue” on THE THIEF AND THE COBBLER, which most likely means they helped with the unconscionable redubbing that soiled director Richard Williams’ decades-in-the-making passion project when producers fired him, ruined his movie and sold it to Miramax to shit out under the title ARABIAN KNIGHT.

It was Solomon (with uncredited Ryan Rowe [TAPEHEADS, CHARLIE’S ANGELS]) who was brought in to add more gags and make it more family friendly shortly before filming. The directors weren’t permitted to work with them, so what they wrote didn’t always match the sets and props they’d created, causing chaos.

Having gone over schedule, the directors ended up not having time to film a planned climactic battle on the Brooklyn Bridge. A second unit shot extra action scenes without them, and they had to fight to even be allowed into the editing room with Mark Goldblatt (TERMINATOR 2). Everyone seems to have been frustrated with everyone else.

This is yet another one released by Disney, but unlike DICK TRACY or THE ROCKETEER, it didn’t deserve a better reception than it got. I would say the toys were a little less ugly, though. A little. They made action figures of most of the main male characters, plus a police car and a playset of the de-evolution chamber thing. There was no Princess to save, though, and no Yoshi, the animatronic dinosaur pet added late in production.

But I mean, it’s good that Richard Edson has an action figure. He didn’t get one for DO THE RIGHT THING.

JURASSIC PARK came out two weeks after SUPER MARIO BROS., but let’s not pretend it was dino competition that wiped it out. It had already opened against CLIFFHANGER and MADE IN AMERICA, and they both clobbered it in its opening weekend. It also came in below DAVE, which was in its third week of release.

SUPER MARIO BROS., it cannot be denied, is a fuckin mess. I cannot in good conscience claim that it’s a good movie, or even that I like it. But I understand why certain Nintendo kids have nostalgia for it. It’s a weird fuckin specimen. It’s… something. Better to be… something than nothing.

sources:

Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive

These guys have multiple drafts of the script and director notes (I got those excerpts and the toy picture from them), and they also did long, thorough interviews with everyone from Mojo Nixon to editor Mark Goldblatt and various extras and crew members. An absolutely incredible resource if you’re interested in this movie.

Mario’s Film Folly: The True Story Behind Hollywood’s Biggest Gaming Blunder by Ben Reeves

Interview: Rocky Morton On The Chaos Of Directing The Super Mario Bros. Movie by Jowi Meli

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
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50 Responses to “Super Mario Bros.”

  1. I’m not sure if it wasn’t really “from Disney”. It seems like they only had a distribution deal or something like that. In several countries (including Germany) it was released by non-Disney related companies.

    Anyway, I love that movies. Part because of nostalgia, but also because it’s able to entertain me in the same non-ironic way like HOWARD THE DUCK. And for some reason, I really don’t know why, 11 year old me didn’t have a problem with all the things they’ve changed from the game. I was pretty nitpicky, but I accepted the movie as “Nah, it’s just a different way to tell the story.”

    According to Lance Henriksen, his role would’ve been much bigger in the sequel. And yes, I fully agree on the SMB archive. It’s the greatest website about a notorious flop movie, that you will find on the web!

  2. BTW, although he still has not many nice things to say about the shoot, at least John Leguizamo made peace with SMB through the years and actually seems more than happy that it has such a long life and even a huge fanbase.

  3. “Look, they want Tom Waits—but I told them I could get you for half-price.”

    Tom Waits dodged a bullet (a bullet with eyes, arms, and an evil grin).

  4. Well what do you know? CJ was right on about this one eventually making an appearance in this series.

    Compared to other entries in this review series I remember this movie having like 0 marketing which is bizarre considering that SUPER MARIO BROS. was THE video game franchise of that era. Matter of fact I only knew it was coming because I saw an ad for it in a comic book with the tag line “ON MAY 28 THIS AIN’T NO GAME” or something like that. I just went WTF and also “how come Luigi doesn’t have a mustache and why is his hat on backwards?” suffice it to say I was there on opening day with my cousin. We had no idea what we were in for. I was not expecting this to be some BLADE RUNNER-esque thing with Mario characters but that’s exactly what it came across as.

    So freaking weird that I couldn’t help but remember it days after having seen it. I didn’t know that approach was taken because “it’s the real urban legend the games reinterpreted” but it makes a lot of sense. I just thought it was made by people who never played the games. Even if they did give Luigi the correct princess to romance. 2 things always stick out to me about this one. How excited I was when we saw Yoshi in the movie and how dissapointed I was that Bob Hoskins didn’t get to ride it like a pony. Also how weird their interpretation of Toad who was now a goombah (a species that was also weirdly interpreted in the movie) with a harmonica fetish but at least they incorporated the blues somehow. Also I definitely cannot listen to that song Walk The Dinosaur anymore and NOT think about this movie.

  5. I rewatched this a couple of years ago. Needless to say: it is not good. It’s very hard to sit through. But, you know, I can’t say there isn’t something about it… it’s one of history’s true cinematic follies.

    The further away we get from it, what with Mario having endured as a kind of elder statesman icon of gaming, the more bizarre it seems that it actually happened and wasn’t just some surreal joke. “Did you know, children, that once upon a time someone spent a lot of money making a dark sci-fi adaptation of Mario full of respected character actors? We don’t know why. Perhaps we were never meant to know. But it exists…”

    It’s an odd film on quite a fundamental level, and a lot of the money shows on screen. It’s a strange experience seeing these giant, elaborate sets and genuinely impressive makeup and models, all squandered on this insane idea that it’s hard to imagine anyone truly liking.

    It’s terrible, but sort of worth watching! Or at least fast forwarding through.

  6. RBatty: Well, Tom Waits might have dodged this bullet, but he did have a supporting role in MYSTERY MEN. (Another infamous box office bomb that I really like and that hopefully qualifies as a Summer Fling.)

  7. There are so many things that I want to mention.

    1) There were Freaked! action figures? OMG they did and I want them all. I recently watched this with my wife. She thought it was the dumbest thing. I don’t know very many (if any) people that like the movie. Am I the only one that thinks Freaked! is friggin’ hilarious?

    2) I also love Mystery Men (and also Hudson Hawk). Am I the only people that find all three of these movies hilarious? How is this possible?

    3) George Clinton also has a cameo in the seminal college comedy PCU (oh my god another comedy I love that not everybody is on board with, what does this say about what I find funny?)

    I have a question that I don’t know how to ask but I’ll do my best. I really think it’s something that some of you can run with and have an amazing discussion with. It involves the term “cult classic.” Here goes:

    Do you think we label too many movies that have a very very small following as “cult classics” and how big of a following must a movie have to not even be considered a “cult classic” even though it’s defined as such? Is there another way we can describe a movie like Super Mario Bros which appears to have actual followers but in no circumstances should the term “classic” be used to describe this one?

  8. Mystery Men seems to have picked up the status of a cult classic, although I haven’t seen it. I did rewatch Down by Law recently, and I remember wondering why Tom Waits doesn’t act more. But then I figured that Ron Perlman probably steals all his roles.

    Until today, I was under the false impression that “Walk the Dinosaur” was written specifically for this movie.

  9. Captain Aktion

    June 6th, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    I have got an extremely deep fascination with this film. As a kid, I thought it was pretty garbage. As a teenager, I thought it was absolute garbage. In my twenties, I found a DVD of it in a Wal-Mart bargain bin in the middle of the night and thought, “there’s two hours worth of reason to get stoned”. However, on that viewing, it really did hook me in that, “I can’t believe this thing exists in this form and was made by people who wanted to succeed” sort of way.

    You’ve basically said what there is to say about this one but I’d like to add that there’s an absolutely marvelous and utterly brutal drinking game hidden in there, somewhere, but I can’t even begin to figure out what rules to go by since I’ve been drunk as a clergyman every time I’ve watched it in the last decade without actually playing ANY game. Fucking Fisher Stevens. Anyway, Super Mario Brothers: The Movie: The Game is what I’m sayin’.

    And I’m aware of the meta aspect of creating a game out of a film based on a game. See also Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game.

  10. Ancient Romans

    June 6th, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Sternshein – You are not alone. I watched Freaked! for the first time last year and the only thing keeping me from being fully, truly in love with it is just that I’m too old and set now. How I missed it when it came out, when I was an impressionable 12 years old and the perfect age to be influenced the maximum amount by its deliberate weirdness, is beyond me. Fortunately, I encountered enough weirdnesses in the interim to still appreciate it.

    Also, PCU is really solid and due for some kind of look back/reappraisal.

    And, I’m also with you in wondering about the parameters of what constitutes a cult classic, although my wonderings go in the opposite direction. Like, I don’t think Office Space is a cult classic anymore; it’s just a straight up classic now. (An opinion that Nathan Rabin bit my fucking head off over.)

  11. Has PCU fallen into obscurity? It was huge back in the late 90s when it ran on Comedy Central like six times a week.

  12. FREAKED was awesome. Who can hate on a movie that recasts Bill and Ted as mutants and has Randy Quaid turn into Brooke Shields?

  13. You would think that PCU with it’s anti-PC message and exposure of young conservative hypocrisy would be pretty popular nowadays. I mean at least I figured that’s why the Starz and Showtime comedy subnetworks air it so much nowadays.

    That movie was never really my bag. Never felt it lived up to “The ANIMAL HOUSE of the 90s” video box claim that convinced me to rent it in the first place but I’m just saying.

  14. Dear Vern,

    I really like your reviews. I laughed out loud at the “whimsical” score paragraph. But then I was thinking about it later and I got upset.

    The main theme for this movie is really annoying but I think you’re casting too wide a net. There’s a beautiful love theme for Luigi and the Princess; also the prologue music is genuinely haunting and thrilling (and completely undone by the dumb Brooklyn narration).

    I’m sure you noticed while watching Super Mario and The Rocketeer and Dick Tracy that movie music doesn’t sound like this anymore. Maybe you were glad! But believe it or not, this stuff, even when it was annoying or sometimes overbearing, took real talent to write. And today it’s been replaced by the latest fascimle of whatever last summer’s Hans Zimmer score was. Dit-Dit-Dit-Dit-Dit-Dit (Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhm) Dit-Dit-Dit-Dit-Dit-Dit-Dit (Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhm) etc pay me my fucking money.

    It’s hackwork. Maybe you prefer it but in non musical terms, it’s like saying you prefer Michael Bay action scenes to Steven Spielberg ones.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is the same one you made at the end of your review. The score to Super Mario Bros is something. And Alan Silvestri (Predator, Back to the Future) is something.

  15. I remember this being not very good. But there’s one reason to re-visit this.

    The lovely Samantha Mathis.

  16. Dikembe Mutombo

    June 6th, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    mario falls through hell

    a sinner burns

  17. I stumbled upon this movie at a video store once as a kid circa 1997 I think and it blew my mind that they made a Super Mario Bros movie, I had never heard of it before.

    So I rented and watched it with no expectations, no knowledge of a what clusterfuck behind the scenes was, for all I knew the movie was the result of a singular vision, everything there for a reason and made by someone who was knowledgeable about the games.

    And with that context I understood what the filmmakers were going for, this was supposed to be the “true” story of the Mario Bros and I also interrupted the grittiness as a purposeful joke, like isn’t it funny that when you think “Mario Bros” you think a bright, colorful cartoon world and this is set in a near post-apocalyptic city? I thought it was a clever subversion of expectations and that the setting of “Dinohattan” was pretty cool.

    So for whatever reason the movie worked for me and I found it pretty entertaining, even as a kid I knew it wasn’t a GREAT movie by any stretch of the imagination but I didn’t think it was terrible.

    However it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it and I have no idea if it would hold up as an adult, but I think the movie is worthy of respect for being such an oddball, one of a kind movie.

    Also, with all that said I do wish though that they had just made a more straight forward adaption with a New York plumber getting transported to a whimsical wonderland, it would be interesting to see the Mushroom Kingdom as it exists in the games “brought to life” through early 90s movie magic as opposed to today where everything would just be CGI, but I appreciate at the same time that they took the more out of left field approach.

  18. Vern, did you watch this on that awful DVD release with the super weird non anamorphic square framing or spring for the (now kinda pricey US Bluray release from a few years back?

  19. A lot of early DVDs—especially from Hollywood Pictures and MGM, in my experience—had non-anamorphic “letterbox” transfers, which seemed like no big deal at the time when all TVs were square. Now I keep finding them lurking in my collection and it’s pissing me off more than I care to admit. There’s nothing like popping in a DVD I haven’t watched in years and discovering that the movie shows up on the screen about the size of a sheet of paper.

  20. Hart Bochner, Ellis himself, directed PCU. The most notable part is the guy who’s thesis is the Caine-Hackman theory, that anywhere anytime on television a movie with Michael Caine or Gene Hackman is on. Obviously that hasn’t aged too well.

  21. The funny thing is as you posted that message onthewall I saw both SUPERMAN II and BATMAN BEGINS on the local TV listings.

  22. David – It’s good music that they use in a way that I find very overbearing and desperate. It’s not necessarily his fault.

    Ray – It was an anamorphic DVD but still looked pretty crappy.

  23. Broddie just gave the best comeback ever.

  24. This movie is basically BILL AND TED 3. It’s also a fascinating movie. It’s not good, necessarily, but it’s incredibly memorable.

  25. Oh, and David I do miss the ’80s/’90s style of scoring, but also Zimmer’s DARK KNIGHT, BATMAN V. SUPERMAN and especially MAN OF STEEL are excellent scores. That his imitators and acolytes monopolize movie scoring right now can’t take that away from him.

  26. Hans Zimmer’s scores for INCEPTION and INTERSTELLAR are also fantastic.

    Hans Zimmer seems like he’s one of the only guys left who still makes memorable movie you music you want to listen to on it’s own.

    I find it sad when you have guys that used to deliver good stuff but no more, like Danny Elfman, who scored 50 SHADES OF GREY, what must that be like? (I imagine a scene where the girl gets her ass paddled set to “The Breakfast Machine” from PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE)

  27. Hans is brilliant. He’s able to push what he does, if maybe even the movies he works on aren’t doing the same thing. It’s why everything he’s done with Nolan so far has been momentous, at least for me as a fan of both of them.

    I think that he is taking his stuff on the road now is great. And he’s probably the only composer to get away with being able to tour the world like a hot pop or rock act now.

    Otherwise I do see the difference between scores now and then are. It goes for Elfman as stated but I even hear it in Silvestri’s music now, how it sounds removed from the style of his more legendary scores now.

  28. Ugh, non-anamoprhic DVDs…
    I seem to have very few of them. Maybe Germany took bigger care of that or I just bought the right movies. Still, I was pissed when I wanted to rewatch EL DIA DE LA BESTIA and bam: tiny screen.

  29. A set of those Freaked figures is going for $399 on eBay right now.

  30. It’s funny because I always thought Hans Zimmer was a complete joke compared to his peers back in the 90s. Now he’s like the last movie composer standing and super respected and shit. Especially around the last decade or so. So weird. To each their own though.

  31. Illinois Smith

    June 7th, 2017 at 1:14 am

    Anyone else made one of their parents sit through this with them? Pretty sure at age 10 this was the first thing I saw in a theater that I recognized as a bad movie instead of “well it’s a movie and movies are great, especially if there’s popcorn”.

  32. I didn’t but I did make my mom sit through another Nintendo movie, POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE and then later POKEMON 2000.

  33. This is why I never want to have kids. I´m thinking of millions of parents being forced to sit through hours of dreadful shit, like POKEMON and regretting that they never had that abortion in the first place

  34. Christ, I saw this at the cinema (sue me, dickhead). I haven’t seen it since and probably won’t again after reading this. Ironically, of the trifecta of 90’s films based on games (SMB, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat), I saw both Street Fighter and SMB thinking they’d be way better than MK. How wrong I was.

    In regards to Hans, I don’t rate him as highly as some of you folk. I think his “themes” are far from memorable. They’re more mood orientated. Compare the score of Man of Steel to Superman, and you’ll catch my drift.

  35. Shoot McKay – LMAO

  36. I saw Mojo Nixon live three times the summer of 1990, and they’re some of best concerts I’ve ever been to. He was a true rock’n roller, funny as a stand up comedian and a real anarchist at heart. Two of the venues ended up being completely trashed before the night was over. Of course I had to buy this movie and brainwash my sons into loving it.

  37. my younger brother and i, we frequently tell each other “TRUST THe FUNGUS”

    so this film is good for that, at least

  38. Don’t think I have much to add on this one, especially since Vern already used the line I was saving up of ‘It’s something alright.’ This is definitely one of those ‘What were they thinking?’ movies and thanks to that SMBArchive site, we know exactly what they were thinking, they bought the rights to a kid’s property and not a single person making the movie wanted to make a kid’s movie.

    I will say that as good of a resource for information on the movie that site is, it does get kind of annoying how they keep defending every awful thing in the movie with the whole ‘It was the first movie based on a video game! They were still trying to figure it out! Good screenwriting and directing didn’t exist till after the movie came out!’

  39. Can we all appreciate for a moment the incredible 90s-ness of the trailer?
    https://youtu.be/hnWShw6EeSc

  40. My mom fell asleep in the animated He Man and She Ra movie. I still have to remind her there was a live action with Dolph Lundgren but a friend’s parents took us to that one.

    My dad loved taking us to Disney cartoon rereleases. I don’t think he was ever subjected to half assed kids movies in the ’80s.

  41. The only time I ever remember going to the movies with my mom as a kid was to watch TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and UNDER SIEGE. Both pretty awesome experiences for everyone. I also remember she really wanted to take me to see KINJITE (she grew up on Bronson and we bonded over that) but she had to fill in at work that night.

  42. CJ, that trailer kind of reminded me of the Ricochet trailer. That’s another one Vern should review.

  43. He already did a while ago. Judging by the amount of comments, even before we weren’t able to comment on here!
    http://outlawvern.com/2008/07/23/ricochet/

  44. Does Vern still have a list of all the movies he has reviewed in alphabetical order on the site?

  45. Yes, on top of the site, in “reviews”.

  46. I don´t know where else to put this, but a friendly passionate fan has recorded audio books of the infamous Nintendo World Of Power books- I´ve never read them myself, but I want to experience them now and immerse myself in the strangeness that apparently surround them. Firrst stop. MEGA MAN 2.

    Words of Power

    The one stop for all your g33k needs whether it be comics, movies, games or
    anything in between. It's on here!

  47. The CASTLEVANIA II one is funny and is the standard that I will be holding the Netflix cartoon up to. Still go around the house with my brother and friends yelling “Hit ’em in da head! WITH THE THORN WHIP!” Probably misquoting but screw it.

  48. I look forward to hearing that one. Is there a “What a horrible night to have a curse” line?

  49. Been a long time but I *believe* it does.

    Here’s info on it:

    Also: the correct quote is “With the thorn whip. With the thorn whip, Tim!”

  50. I forgot about this, but I bought the George Clinton single (Actually by “The Goombas feat. George Clinton”) at some point in the late 90s for cheap. (3 DM, according to the never removed price tag. That’s 1/4 of the full price of a CD single back in the days.)

    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet

    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet.

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