...and the trouble she discovers.
1993 was a special time in my life. I was only nine years old and the only video game I’d played, until it was burned into my memory, was Super Mario Bros. 3. With success dripping out of Nintendo’s ears the company decided to branch out and lend their plumbing heroes to a film adaptation. This was new territory for any video game company as no one had attempted this feat before. According to the folklore that surrounds the project everything that could have gone wrong eventually did. The film came in way over budget, far over production time, and attempted to blend three separate scripts into one. To say this film was doomed from the beginning is truly an understatement.
As Bob Hoskins and a young John Leguizamo were cast as Mario and Luigi we find our heroes not taken to a magical land where they must save a princess but underneath Brooklyn in a parallel city choked with fungus and ruled by an evil King Koopa. Dennis Hopper portrays Koopa as a humanoid that evolved from the dinosaur with a fear of germs but odd love for mud baths. Eh, go figure.
Mario and Luigi follow Princess Daisy into an odd neon colored city where hijinks quickly ensue. Daisy finds that she is originally from this new world and her father, the old king, has been transformed into a large ball of goo. Our boys must rescue the princess, stop their world from merging into the magical mushroom kingdom, and help transform Old King back to his normal self by defeating the evil overlord. There is a lot happening in this film, to say the least, none of which grasps what made the video games so successful. Instead of green fields and a certain amount of whimsy there is a steam punk back drop with comical boing-oing-oing sound effects accompanying outlandish antics.
Of course the plot devices within the film are weak and become hard to follow however I found myself enjoying the time spent watching this flick. It could be the nostalgia factor as a call back to my childhood but I also found that the animatronics were done quite well which, coupled with fairly likeable characters, left me pleased.
As a film Super Mario Bros. is a Certified Watch. Sure, it runs amok but for me it’s a beautiful blunder. If you’re not up for this terribly absurd romp then I assure you that you’ll not enjoy a moment of the film. Should you find pleasure in the bizarre, though, you may very well end up glad that you picked it up for only $4.99.