3/30/2013


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 Leguizmo, 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?
[Image Source: YouTube]

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13 comments:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Pauline Hickey at age 17 in 1985, THE most gorgeous bird whos ever lived, no question about it.

jervaise brooke hamster said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The actors were drunk? I thought it was just Eric Roberts in Sharktopus that had to do that!
The craziest thing was they had to make the film in the first place.

jervaise brooke hamster said...
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Joyce Lansky said...

Yeah. It doesn't look like something I'd want to see.

http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

MedeiaSharif said...

I had no idea it was made into a movie. It does sound like a flop.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Mo, geezer, my old mate, what did you think of the 17 year-old version of Pauline Hickey circa 1985 ?, do you agree that the bird was THE most gorgeous bird of all-time ! ?.

Pat Dilloway said...

A lot of famous actors really dodged a bullet there. I second what Alex said that filming it was the craziest thing of all.

Tony Laplume said...

I dunno. I've never seen it, and I tend to think the reaction to any video game movie is already set well before anyone's seen the movie, that it can't possibly be taken seriously because it's based on a video game. The key phrase here is "based on." The game is a starting point, basic brand recognition. If Tim Burton only did what was expected of him, we'd still have Adam West in mind as Batman. You want to live in a world where that's your only Batman? I think there's some serious scholarly potential in exploring the phenomenon of video game movies, mostly because video games play by different rules to other forms of storytelling. Completely different, and it's the same now as it was thirty years ago. Give me Pong: The Movie! I'm actually increasingly eager to see the Super Mario Brothers movie. If it's not actually fun to watch on its own, I bet it could still inspire a better movie than anything that attempted a more literal interpretation of the game itself.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Mo, Alex, Medeia, Joyce, Pat, Tony, visit "Anal Base-POV Anal" and "Anal Base-Gaping Anal" for literally hundreds of pictures and movie clips of beautiful gorgeous sexy young girls being buggered senseless ! ! !.

Cody Robison said...

You literally just said..."I've never seen it" and then continued to bring up the point that maybe we judged this to harshly because it was different from the source material. Dude...I saw this movie in the theater when it came out, I owned it on VHS, I owned the action figures and the child novelization and I just sat down watched it the other day for the first time in 13 years and I can say with complete and total authority...This movie is garbage.

Liesel Hill said...

Never seen it but it sounds horrendous. You gotta hate those diva actors that insist on ridiculous things like reading the script or not getting hot coffee thrown on them. The nerve! Seriously, though. In most great, successful productions, be they film or tv or something else, you always hear about the camaraderie of the cast and crew, and how much fun they all have together. Not that I would know, but it seems to me if you go into something as intensive and complicated as a movie production, you'd want to have the best attitude possible. Otherwise, disaster will ensue. I don't know why some people just don't get that. Very interesting post! :D

Dave said...

I was reading a Judge Dredd spinoff comic about his servo-robot Walter from 1978, which concerns a plumber that looks exactly like Bob Hoskins.

Oddly prescient.

Dave
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