Monday, May 28, 2018

Love those plumbers! "Super Mario Bros." (1993) turns 25!


Can you believe this wonderful mess even exists? I saw it in theaters as a little boy and I absolutely loved the experience, even if it didn't make much sense to me at the time. As I grew older I noticed there was a huge backlash against this film, but my heart always remained true to it. I thought it was weird, wonderful, and imaginative, even if it just barely reflected the original Nintendo games. It's such a uniquely 1990's experience too, resembling what was popular in visual culture in that time. A mixture of late 1980's aesthetics, an anime/cyberpunk/Blade Runner type of grime to the world of Dinohattan, and a soundtrack of mostly 90's dance music. It's the perfect time capsule of 1993. 

I remember being really hyped for it, and my friends and I would wonder what it would be about. I remember lunch hour at P.S. 20 being filled with discussion about how cool it looked, and how we all couldn't wait to see it once it was out. I even owned a bootlegged VHS copy of the movie! 


I've tried my best to recreate the cover from memory. It had this horribly photocopied pink version of the original poster. My mom and I were on Canal Street, probably buying groceries, and she noticed me looking at it. It was being sold by someone who had a table full of bootlegged VHS tapes and other merchandise. It was $10 I think, and I couldn't be happier. My friends and I rewatched that bootleg until the tape within it was just a pile of dust. And that's no exaggeration, my friends and I watched this cassette until it no longer functioned; that should tell you how much we loved this movie.


I think this film gets too much undeserved hate. I'll agree it's confusing, especially to folks who are really fond of the original Nintendo games and their cartoony style, but as a film it holds up. It has a lot of stuff I like in it. Weird reptilian people, hollow earth and interdimensional travel, and strange religious imagery. There's a lot to take in with this film. And although it's not as deep with it's lore like "Star Wars" or "Dune", there's still a lot to unpack in this film that makes for good fodder for young fans to talk about. There were even a few toys based on the characters who appeared! I still have my Goomba on the shelf somewhere, but to this day I regret there wasn't a figure made of a de-evolved Koopa, or Princess Daisy (with Yoshi). 

The picture below is from the wonderful website Super Mario Bros The Movie Archive. Without question, the work of these archivists is unparalleled and the most extensive ever done on this one niche topic. Seriously, check them out when you get a chance, they've done an amazing job of not only archiving all the elements that made this movie so special, but they've also united fans around the world. 



Do yourself a favor and give this movie another chance. It's a good time. It's stupid, but fun; and that's what we should all aspire to be. And remember, always trust the fungus.

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