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January 16, 2015

VGFlicks: Super Mario Bros. The Movie (Part 1)

Bay and Boll could break my soul, but the Super Mario Bros. Movie would obliterate it.

I've made jokes about the worst things I've reviewed on the site. I keep poking fun at Anubis II, the worst game I've ever played, and Gamer, the worst movie about video games I have ever seen. Or rather, it was the worst movie... until today.

I could bang my head on the wall and feel more enjoyment. I could wear clothes made out of steaks and then have dogs chase me around, and I'd feel more enjoyment than I did watching this movie. From beginning to end, it is one big instance of WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY THINKING? It's bad. Just bad. Terrible. Horrendous. You could argue that, unlike Gamer, it's not an insult to gamers... and you're right. It's not an insult to “all” gamers. It is, however, an insult to everyone who grew up playing the games with everyone's favorite Italian stereotype from Brooklyn who lives in a world of magical mushrooms and large dragon-turtles. It's the embodiment of why video game movies suck for the most part, an accurate representation of how many fucks directors often give when they're adapting that kind of source material. Too bad I'm not in a DeLorean going at 88 miles per hour, because it would have been worth it then; but I'm still gonna see some serious sh*t.

I... can't... I just can't. This is the worst way I could possibly start the year. It's... it's beyond me. I can't review this film. This is the Batman & Robin of video game movies! My attachment to the Mario canon (even if it's one of the loosest canons out there) makes it impossible for me to watch this movie and appreciate even a single moment of it. I don't know if I will be able to review this film properly... But I have to watch this movie. This makes me feel so horrible I could very well stamp my forehead with the words “I AM A MASOCHIST – PUNCH ME”. How long is this movie... 104 minutes? I give up. I can't. I can't watch this. Another part of me will die, and enough parts of me have died recently.

Urgh. Better try to get this over with. This movie came out in 1993, which makes it the oldest movie I've reviewed. It's also the first – and so far only – live-action movie adaptation of a Nintendo franchise. There was a fake trailer for a Legend of Zelda movie once, and to be fair, with everything we achieve these days with fantasy epics, I actually believe that a (good) Zelda movie will be possible someday. But this movie kinda diminishes my hopes.

Pull yourself together, Nic. You can do it. Just... I dunno... Cut it in two parts instead of three, be less descriptive... you can do it. Better start now. Actually, you know what? I think I will keep on standby an Insult To Continuity Counter. It's just a reworked version of the “Wait, What? Rating” machine (from my review of Thrillville: Off The Rails, all the way back in 2013). I upgraded it, and now it can go up to 9,999. It calculates the number of things in a movie adaptation that insult the established canon and facts of a series. It hardly ever goes beyond 100...

The movie opens in Brooklyn... during the Prehistoric era. No, really. We get a bit of backstory for this crazy world we're about to enter. The planet was struck by the meteorite, but instead of destroying all life, the impact created a new dimension all the dinosaurs somehow wound up in. I honestly couldn't make this up if I tried. My only question so far is: What did the creators smoke, how much of it did they smoke, and will I appreciate this movie more if I have some of it too?

I can imagine what the nuns said... "Holy crap!"
We then see Brooklyn (20 years before the movie – so 1973), where a woman leaves a baby on a doorstep. Boy, this sure is one weird basket. The woman then runs away and goes into the sewers. ...Did I mention that the futuristic basket contained an egg? And that the egg contained a human baby? Gee, maybe THAT'S where Game Freak got the idea that all Pokémon are born in eggs!

Fastforward to present day (1993), at the Mario Brothers Plumbing's office, where Mario (played by the late Bob Hoskins) answers a call about a plumbing problem. What do they use to advertise their enterprise? The Plumbing Song?

Yes, that's Mario, and yes, that's Luigi. I never wondered
what they wore when they weren't in uniform...
But Luigi with a backwards cap? Oh Heck no!
Meanwhile, Luigi (John Leguizamo) is watching TV, dressed like a baseball fan and kinda acting like a teenager. Oh, and he doesn't have a mustache (Insult to Continuity Counter: 3). Anyway, Mario tells Luigi that they've got work, and so the two leave the office. We get a glimpse of Luigi's horrible driving (hey, as long as he doesn't make scary faces while driving we're fine), and then we find out that they went there for nothing, as the Scapelli, a family that works in plumbing but also in construction, have beaten them to it. A little further, more Scapellis are trying to close down a digging site where university students are playing archaeologists and trying to find dinosaur bones. The head of site, a woman named Daisy (what, not Peach?), discusses with the head of the Scapelli family (who I'd best describe as a... um... madman sounds about right), and then leaves. She's then spotted by two weirdos who begin chasing her, with very little subtlety.

Daisy and Luigi...
Daisy meets Luigi, who was using a public phone to call a garage as the Mario Bros. Plumbing van broke down. Luigi immediately feels enamored and hands her the phone. After her call, the Bros. bring her back to the site and Luigi invites her for dinner. (OK, in the games universe I do ship Luigi/Daisy, but to be technical, that pairing had no reason to exist until Daisy started appearing in Mario games as a playable character, since Luigi was not even in Super Mario Land, Daisy's first – and only – appearance as a damsel in distress.) Mario brings his girlfriend Daniella (second name Pauline) and turns this into a double-date. Attention is brought on the research done in that field menaced by the Scapelli (as there are theories that the meteorite that caused the extinction of all the dinosaurs could have landed there), and Danielle also points out that Daisy's necklace is an odd stone.

...and Mario and Pauline- I mean, Danielle. Boy, Mario looks
old here. That movie was made before Mario was revealed to
have hair under his cap.

So far so good! I'm surprised there's so very few continuity mistakes to speak of.

Oh, and after Daisy reveals that she was raised at the orphanage, Luigi says that Mario took care... of... him... and... raised... him... as a... s... o... n...

WHAT THE FUCK? (Insult To Continuity Counter: 9,900) YOU'RE GONNA BREAK MY MACHINE, STUPID MOVIE! MARIO AND LUIGI CAN'T BE FATHER AND (admittedly, adoptive) SON, THEY ARE CALLED THE MARIO BROTHERS FOR A DAMN OBVIOUS REASON: THEY ARE BROTHERS! RAISED BY THE SAME PARENTS! (We never see them, but still...) THIS MOVIE FUCKED UP ON THE MOST BASIC ASPECT OF THE SERIES! I can't believe it! This is... like.. It's like one of the Ten Commandments of video games: Endless pits can be anywhere, you are only as durable as your amount of Hit Points, MARIO AND LUIGI ARE BROTHERS! Godddammit!

Try to forget about that, Nic... you have a review to do...

We found Barney the Dinosaur's ancestor!
So, after the dinner, Mario brings Pauline-I mean, Danielle home, and after he laves, the two weirdos from earlier kidnap Danielle, thinking it's Daisy in disguise. Allow me to facepalm at their idiocy. *slap* Thanks. Meanwhile, Daisy shows Luigi around the digging site, and brings him underground into large caves. Down there, what do they find? A dinosaur skeleton with a bone structure closer to a human's. No, I didn't make that up. Sadly, just before the two were about to kiss, water starts flooding the place and men run out of the cave. Scapelli, you magnificent bastard, I hate your book! Er... I meant guts. I hate your guts!

I've seen weak walls before, but this is ridiculous!
So Luigi hurries to get Mario, and the (urgh) “Bros.” go in the caves to stop the flood. And they succeed, too! ...That is, until the two idiot goons come in, knock them out and kidnap Daisy. Thankfully the (re-urgh) “Bros.” come back to their senses quickly and give chase, going deeper and deeper in the cave. At some point, they find Daisy is still yelling at them, but from behind a rock... a not very solid rock. Daisy comes out, but she's dragged back in, and Luigi fails to catch her, instead catching her necklace. Luigi decides to jump in to save Daisy (all things considered, that was before characterization made Luigi a lovable coward). Mario hesitates but ends up going in too. The associates soon reappear on the other side, and chase the goons into a crowd of people. They continue the chase into Koopa Station, and Luigi soon gets a glimpse of this dark world, a large city.

Wait... The Mushroom Kingdom is a large city? With tall buildings, metro stations and other stuff like that? What do the game screenshots say?

Just as I thought. They call bullcrap on that. (Insult to Continuity Counter: 9,912.) Soon enough they realize that they're not in Manhattan anymore. There are tiny dinos acting like rats, the population is weird, oh, and there's a kind of yellow-ish fungus all over the place. Oh, and some humans are traveling eggs in baby carriers. This, my friends, is the twisted city known as... Dinohattan. I'd like to make a joke, but I don't think I need to. As far as I'm concerned, the inhabitants of the fantasy world live in villages, also they're Toads (ItCC: 9,914), and these villages actually look clean, orderly, not very populated, and not covered in yellow, mushy fungi (ItCC: 9,918). And the Mario universe doesn't have porn theaters. Yes, they made a joke like that. Urgh.

No! No! ...No! Just no! No! No! This is... No! No never nay nada niet!
Ouch, my childhood! It's in pain! Fuck you for this joke, movie!

We're then introduced to the villain, King Koopa- I meant, President Koopa. Sure. (ItCC: 9,920). He hates germs and prefers to keep his hands clean; also, he's a human-looking character with hair spikes. And he's played by Dennis Hopper! Oh, the horror! And he has a tendency to get angry easily. Okay, they got at least one thing right about Bowser. Anyway, President Koopa says that he wants the Princess because he needs the piece of meteorite she has around her neck. He then explains, in rather obvious exposition, that this rock will let him merge the dinosaur world with the human world, which means the humans will be eradicated or something, and he does all that because there aren't enough resources in their world for them to live properly. Or stuff like that.

So Koopa's goons come to him and say they got Daisy... but then they realize the stone isn't with her. Oops. They also slip that plumbers got the stone. Thus, President Koopa spreads the word around Dinohattan that he's looking for two plumbers who don't come from their world.

No worries, though; the stone will be safe in her cleavage.
By the way, we never know why the Hell she steals it.
The old woman had a reason. This woman doesn't.
Mario and Luigi are thus attacked by an elderly woman, and after that woman gets the stone, a large black woman takes it from her. Did I mention that this black woman got special boots that let her jump high? The Mario team starts chasing her, but meet on the way a street musician... Toad, who sings to them an anti-President Koopa song and then gets promptly arrested by the police. Yay. Even my Insult To Continuity Counter has no idea how many insults we've got here. Oh, and of course Mario and Luigi get arrested at the same time.

Toad as a musician? With a voice like the one they gave him
in the games, I imagined him more as a living alarm clock.

So, the Mario “Bros.” (God, my childhood aches) are brought to the police station and decline their names. Or rather, their full names: Mario Mario, and Luigi Mario.

No, I'm not making that up.

Yes, it is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard.

But to be fair, it's nowhere as bad as Mario and Luigi not being brothers. I can get behind Mario and Luigi's final names being Mario. And frankly, it kinda makes sense considering they are called the Mario Brothers, an expression that would use the two characters' last name, logically. Honestly, there's far dumber stuff going on in this movie. I'll let another critic do the nerd rage for me, because I'm not feeling any for this part.

So after giving their names, it's time for the prisoner picture, and then they get tossed in cages. And Toad (urgh) is near them, so he tells them the story: The world split in two dimensions, dinosaurs evolving, etc. He also slips a word about all the fungi covering Dinohattan being the actual King of this dimension, de-evolved and getting his revenge by covering everything. Why yes, and I'm the Queen of England! Stephen Harper hangs pictures of me in his office! I'm a grandmother and I have a great-grandson! I transmitted the genes of big ears to my descendants! I really wish the United States would come to visit more often...

Oh, what a dirty, egg-sucking son of a snake!
Thankfully, the Mario family are released quickly enough, and meet with President Koopa, who claims to be their lawyer. Oh, did I mention he pretends to be someone else? That plan fails pretty quickly when Koopa assaults them to get the meteorite piece, without knowing that they lost it. Now that that plan has failed, Koopa instead decides to de-evolve the two.

...Wait, de-evolve?

He brings them to a chamber where Toad is led prisoner and shows them what de-evolving is like. Toad is raised into a machine and turns into a hulking brute with a very tiny head... A Goomba. Yes, Goombas are bodyguards in this world. They're huge, they're humanoid, and they are terrifying.


(Insult to Continuity Counter: 9,930)

Gee, two more feet and it would have been dangerous!
For payback, Mario and Luigi manage to trap President Koopas in the machine and then run away, but Koopa gets out quickly enough to be (mostly) unchanged. Though he might have become a wee bit nastier. Mario and Luigi steal a police car and escape. Policemen give chase, of course. The Mario series never needed an action car chase, as far as I'm concerned! (ItCC: 9,931.) The Mario team drives into an opening that leads to Koopahari Desert, and almost fall to their doom on the other side – that is, until the fungi piles up over the police car and stops the car's fall barely a foot over ground. Good to know that this movie follows the Bugs Bunny physics. Heck, even Mario doesn't believe that the fungi saved them! I sure as Hell don't.

Menwhile, Koopa demands to see Princess Daisy, and sends his goons Iggy and Spike to the evolving machine to make them smarter, thus making them greater threats to the Mario team. (I'm gonna be skimming a bit of stuff here, because way too much happens in way too few minutes.) The father and (adoptive) son are stranded in the desert. Daisy, in an apartment, meets a young dino named Yoshi, who either hasn't evolved or is a pet, and then Koopa flirts with her and seriously freaks her out. Way too much is going on in this flick. Iggy and Spike make another mistake and get caught by Mario and Luigi, and so they decide to spell out all of Koopa's plan. Without being really forced to. I guess, even evolved, idiots will be idiots. The Mario team explains that someone else got the rock, and after some explanation, Iggy and Spike understand that the fat woman took it... a fat woman named Big Bertha. Like the fish in Super Mario Bros. 3. That woman is fishy. But she should be a lot fishier if you ask me.

We are clearly seeing twins here!

So, Mario and Luigi, with help from Iggy and Spike (who were still dumb enough to be manipulated... unless it's the opposite; they became smart enough to see that Prez Koopa's tyranny is wrong), hijack a garbage truck and go back into the city. They reach Big Bertha's night club and enter, dressed the best they could. They also get to see some of the “dance moves” done by the inhabitants of this world. The robotic movements, I can live with that, but the hissing that seems obligatory with these movements? Uh... No. Just no. Mario spots Big Bertha and goes to try and flirt with her, but she just punches him in the face.

"This is what this movie will do to your career! You'll get back up, but it's
gonna hurt for a while, and you'll remember all your life how painful it was."

I think it's a good time to cut this review. There's only so much of the negative kind of dumb I can watch on a single day. Because yes, there are good kinds of dumb, and this movie doesn't have any of it. So I'm taking a break, for my own sake. See you this Monday for Part 2.