Throwback Thursday Review of “Super Mario Bros.”
Run time: 104 minutes
Growing up in the 80s pretty much guaranteed that video games would be a big part of my youth. Every kid I knew had either an NES or a Sega Genesis (The lucky ones, like me and my brothers, had both), and devoted countless hours to games like Bubble Bobble, Double Dragon, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Between those games, and all of the awesome movies coming out in the 80s, our family TV was taxed to the max. So you can imagine my excitement, when I found out that a movie version of Super Mario Bros. (the king of all video games) was being made. I couldn’t wait to see Mario, Luigi, goombas, and Toad all come to life on the big screen!
I counted down the days, with eager anticipation, and finally the day came. My friend David’s parents took us to the local theater, we loaded up on concessions, and settled in for what we were sure would be the greatest movie of all time. What we got wasn’t bad… It just wasn’t Super Mario Bros. as we knew it. It was dark, and confusing, and there were no koopa troopas, and the goombas were weird giants with tiny lizard heads, and Bowser was called “King Koopa” and he was just Dennis Hopper with a bad hairdo. Where were the castles? Where was Toad? Oh… THAT’S Toad?!? He is an oddball version of Bob Dylan?
Then there was the tone of the movie. At times it was slapstick comedy, at other times it was a slightly dark family adventure (think Never Ending Story), and then it got strange with the explanation of the meteorite hitting the planet and forcing the dinosaurs to evolve into basically humans in another dimension (called Dinohatten). It was just so much story with so many differing vibes. It was confusing.
Nevertheless, when it came out on VHS my friend and I went straight to Blockbuster Video, rented it, and watched it at his place. After giving it another shot (and knowing what to expect this time), we liked it. Then again, we were 12 year old boys who liked anything that could blend science fiction, fantasy, and adventure. Plus, whether or not this was the Mario Bros. we knew, it was still the Mario Bros.. I remember having discussions over the possibility of a Zelda movie and who would play Link, and whether or not there would be a sequel to Super Mario Bros. and if it would be like the second Mario game (which by the way is still one of the hardest video games of all time). All in all, I would say my friends and I watched “Super Mario Bros.” about a dozen times each.
Now, for the first time in nearly two decades (Geez! Am I that old?), I have re-watched it. I have to say… It is not very good. The 12 year old me that sat in that theater, and watched it for the first time, was right. It is nowhere near the source material, it is tonally uneven, and you get the feeling it was nothing more than a paycheck to Dennis Hopper. Don’t get me wrong, there are still things I enjoy about “Super Mario Bros.”. There are some funny moments, and a crazy car chase scene, and the Bob Omb is adorable. Hell, King koopa even looks cool once he actually becomes a dinosaur.
Those bright spots aren’t enough to make it a good film though, even for a film about a video game. I wish we could get a chance to see what a more accurate portrayal of the brothers Mario would look like, as I think it could be a lot of fun. As things stand, we are left with the 1993 version. Oh well… at least Netflix is giving us the live action Zelda series soon!