Video game movies get a bad rap, and one of the most frequently cited disasters is the first: Super Mario Bros: The Movie. A hellish nightmare of cyberpunk and prehistoric confusion, the movie was a box office and critical disappointment. As bad as the movie was for viewers, the production was even worse. Here are nine things that explain why Super Mario Bros ended up such a crazy mess.
1. The Road to Casting Mario Was Surprisingly Long - The cast list to play Mario in the movie was surprisingly long and contested. Michael Keaton and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both candidates at one point. Danny Devito also was approached to direct and star , but he turned it down because he had this crazy insistence on reading the script first. Tom Hanks finally signed on to play the role, but the studio thought he was too expensive. They brought in Bob Hoskins, fresh off his role in Roger Rabbit, because he was cheaper. One prominent actor practically begged to play Mario because his kids were fans of the game - Dustin Hoffman.
2. Bob Hoskins Didn't Know The Movie Was Based On a Game - In contrast to Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hoskins had never heard of Super Mario Bros. Amazingly, Bob Hoskins had no idea that Super Mario Bros was based on a videogame until months into filming when he mentioned his current project to his kids, and they showed him the Nintendo game.
3. They Almost Made a Movie Version of Super Mario Bros - One of the topics of debate with Super Mario Bros is how little the movie relates to the game. It turns out that they almost got it right. The first draft of the script was based on the fantasy world of the movie, and is described as resembling Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz. This version was ultimately abandoned because it was deemed too expensive, and the director duo Morton and Jankel sold the studio on the idea of an alternate world where the dinosaurs evolved into humans. Most of the cast signed on because of the kid-friendly fantasy version of the script, and weren't happy to see the final dark shooting script, but couldn't get out of their contracts.
4. The Directors Wanted to Make It For Adults - If there's any clue to the fact that the directors didn't get Super Mario Bros, it's that they tried to aim the movie at adults. They hired the designer for Blade Runner and made Dinohatten dark and twisted. They dressed everyone in leather and bondage gear. They killed off characters. According to Leguizamo, the directors even shot scenes with strippers and sexually explicit content that ended up on the cutting room floor.
5. The Script Was Rewritten Again. And Again - Some accounts say as many as nine writers tackled the script. The studio tried to make the movie more family friendly while the directors fought to maintain their dark vision. The script was being rewritten as the movie was being filmed with new pages arriving daily. Even the actors stopped paying attention to the rewrites. Dennis Hopper said he just focused on the dialogue he needed to shoot that day and ignored everything else. Richard Edison and Fisher Stevens, who played evil henchmen Spike and Iggy, just wrote their own dialogue and ad-libbed scenes.
6. The Directors Were the Real Monsters - From all accounts, the directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel were horrible to work with. They had directed mostly commercials and one movie before Super Mario Bros, and had little experience in handling the complex production. They behaved unprofessionally, arguing with each other and the crew. In one famous incident, Morton was so angry with the costume design that he threw a cup of hot coffee onto an extra. The crew took to calling them "Rocky and Annabel, the Flying Squirrel Show." Hoskins just called them "f***ing idiots." Ultimately, Morton and Jankel were pulled off the project, and weren't allowed to be involved in the editing or second unit reshoots.
7. The Mario Brothers Costume Almost Didn't Make It - The idea of the Mario Brothers wearing their iconic red-and-green jumpsuits was something the directors were dead set against. It was only after a long fight with the producers that they finally relented. That's why Mario and Luigi don't wear the outfits until almost the end of the movie.
8. The Actors Were Drunk - Apparently, the filming was so laborious that the lead actors had to get drunk to do it. John Leguizamo brought some scotch onto the set and he and Bob Hoskins would drink between scenes. Leguizamo ended up getting so drunk that he braked too hard while driving a van and slammed the door on Hoskins' hand. As a result, you can see Hoskins wearing a pink cast in some scenes.
9. The Worst Thing They've Ever Done - To this day, everyone involved has bitter feelings towards the movie. As recently as 2011, Bob Hoskins named Super Mario Bros as the worst job he's ever done and the biggest mistake of his life. In 2008, when Dennis Hopper was asked which movie he regrets out of the 150 films he'd done, Super Mario Bros was his choice. Hopper said his son once asked why he did the movie, and Hopper said he needed shoes. Hopper's son said, "I don't need shoes that badly."
What did you think of Super Mario Bros?
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