I liked the Super Mario Bros. Movie

April 30, 2014

I am NOT a movie buff, and I’m terrible with celebrities. I’ve only seen one Wes Anderson movie, I’ve never seen The Breakfast Club, and I legitimately couldn’t name a single movie I’d seen starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman when he died (yeah—I’m that bad). That said, I’m sad to hear that Bob Hoskins has passed away. I’m sure you can guess what I’m about to say: the only movie role of his that I can remember is when he played Mario in the Super Mario Bros. Movie. What I’m going to say next, however, may surprise you:I liked the Super Mario Bros. Movie. On its own, it’s not a bad film. It really isn’t. Sure, it does a very poor job of using its source material, but if you look at it objectively, it isn’t a bad film. It has a cohesive plot, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the actors in it do a fantastic job.

Don’t believe me? Okay. Pretend you’re not watching a video game movie. Pretend you’re watching any regular 90s action/adventure flick, and watch this scene, and tell me it’s not awesome:

It has everything! It’s fun, it’s quirky, it’s silly, it’s watchable, and it’s infinitely better directed and easy to follow than anything Michael Bay has ever done in his career, ever.

A lot of people take issue with the gross misuse of source material, especially goombas. But what would you have done if you’d been tasked with writing a screenplay for a kid’s movie in which the most common enemies are small mushroom-like creatures that Mario literally stomps to death to defeat? They really had to come up with something, and while you may not have personally used tall, lumbering, stupid lizard-like creatures, you have to admit that they make sense within the narrative of the film. I mean, it takes place in Dinohattan. Dino. Hattan. It’s Manhattan for dinosaurs. The enemies are all presented as dinosaurs / lizards. Hate to break it to you, but this interpretation of what a “goomba” is actually makes sense within the narrative of the story.

Mushrooms are used differently, but what, did you want Mario to eat one and become gigantic and have a Megazord-like fight with a gigantic King Koopa in the middle of a dinosaur version of New York City? …Okay, so, admittedly, that actually would have been pretty awesome. But as mushrooms are a pretty central part of the Mario Bros. franchise, and the film makes them a central part of the movie, you can’t say that they completely ignored the source material, even if you’re not happy with how they used mushrooms.

Then there’s the infamous “Mario Mario” scene. If you’re not familiar, Mario and Luigi are registering in Dinohattan, and they declare that their last name is Mario, thus making their full names “Mario Mario” and “Luigi Mario.” Some people point to this scene as one of the “great downfalls” of the film, but you can’t do that. Just stop. It’s stupid, but that’s why it’s funny. That’s the point. They made a joke that is literally SO stupid, you can’t take it seriously. All you can do is laugh at it. The filmmakers weren’t trying to establish canon, they weren’t trying to make a statement about the entire video game franchise… they just made a dumb joke. And the fact that people are still talking about it over 20 years later means that it was effective.

20 years after Super Mario Bros. was released, even John Leguizamo has mostly good things to say about it, and he has some really good points about the film. You need to watch this video:

When an actor still has good things to say about a poorly received movie he appeared in 20 years ago, you know they did something right.

Still not convinced? Do me a favor and go watch the Double Dragon movie. It is one of the most unwatchable movies I have ever had the misfortune of seeing. Now that is a bad 90s video game movie.

So rest in peace, Bob Hoskins. You may be more well-known for more well-loved movies, but I will always remember you as Mario Mario, and to that I simply say “thank you.”

I’ll leave you with this admittedly slow-paced but ultimately well-articulated positive review of the Super Mario Bros. Movie, so you can learn about all the film’s merits that I failed to mention here:

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