Where’s the original script? Where’s the one we liked?
June 9, 2016 7:57 PM   Subscribe

With everything that kept going wrong, was [directing Super Mario Bros. (the movie)] a tough experience?

Tough? That’s a very mild word. It was a harrowing experience.
posted by griphus (70 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Haha, this is totally insane. Or maybe arrogance more than insanity?

What happened when they made the video game was the Japanese found out about the story but they kind of got it wrong. That’s why the film is different to the game. It was a deliberate choice. A lot of people think, ‘Oh, they got it wrong.’ We didn’t. It was a deliberate thing.
posted by My Dad at 8:12 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


As an aside, I'm in Japan right now, very close to where Miyamoto Shigeru grew up. Travelling through Nantan in northern Kyoto and Hyogo, it's striking how similar the landscape is to some of the settings seen in Super Mario World.
posted by My Dad at 8:14 PM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was about to tweet this at you griph and now here we are
posted by The Whelk at 8:19 PM on June 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


"The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Bros. It was a fuckin’ nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! Fuckin’ nightmare. Fuckin’ idiots.” --Bob Hoskins
posted by belarius at 8:25 PM on June 9, 2016 [27 favorites]


I'm far more inclined to believe Hoskins about who's at fault than I am the directors. Hoskins had a long and distinguished career and made many very fine movies before this one.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:46 PM on June 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


They can both be right. I have the feeling that when it comes to this movie, there is plenty of blame to share.
posted by ejs at 8:55 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]




What happened when they made the video game was the Japanese found out about the story but they kind of got it wrong. That’s why the film is different to the game. It was a deliberate choice. A lot of people think, ‘Oh, they got it wrong.’ We didn’t. It was a deliberate thing.

The weird whimsy and wonder of the games are a part of why people like them. If you throw that out, you're basically saying, "Hey! Let's bait and switch the audience! They'll think they're getting something lighthearted and goofy with mushrooms and turtles and princesses but really it'll be all dinosaurs and alternate history! Yes, and what we made will be so much better than what they were expecting that no one will care! Yes, we're also saying we're gonna do it better than the property owner! This is an excellent plan that cannot fail!"

Once you reduce all the fractions, that becomes, "We are stupid people, and we are going to willfully do a stupid thing!"
posted by JHarris at 9:03 PM on June 9, 2016 [25 favorites]


Ahh, but you see, darker is more interesting!
posted by Artw at 9:04 PM on June 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


Go to your (dark) room, Artw.
posted by nfalkner at 9:07 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have some doubts about whether anyone really was pining after this superior script they keep going on about.
posted by Artw at 9:09 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Perhaps the angel Moroni wrote the original script on golden plates.
posted by benzenedream at 9:29 PM on June 9, 2016 [21 favorites]


I'd love to see a Rashomon-esque take on a movie disaster.
posted by solarion at 9:47 PM on June 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


For what it's worth, I effing loved this movie as a kid. Watched it over and over.
posted by retrograde at 10:08 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I still kind of like it. It's completely bonkers.
posted by Scattercat at 10:17 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


The original scripts appear to be here. I assume the script they're talking about is the "Mad Max" Sci-Fi/Action Draft of 25th March 1992.
posted by Grangousier at 11:18 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Super Mario Bros. movie is weird and fun for what it is, and as someone who's seen a large number of bad movies, I'd go to it like a shot before, say, anything by Michael Bay. It's just not a very good Super Mario Bros. movie. And the nuance of the result was lost on an entire generation of kids.

It may actually be possible to make a good movie about Super Mario Bros. As it is we don't know if can be done or not, because the director certainly didn't bother trying.
posted by JHarris at 11:37 PM on June 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


benzenedream: "Perhaps the angel Moroni wrote the original script on golden plates."

You put an extra "i" in there.
posted by Bugbread at 11:37 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


"the orginal script"?
posted by Grangousier at 11:48 PM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth, I effing loved this movie as a kid. Watched it over and over.

Yeah, me too. A dozen times easily. (I almost feel like this puts my anonymity at risk because how many of us could there be but with you I now know of at least four.)
posted by atoxyl at 12:08 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


What I mostly remember about this movie, that I have not seen since I saw it in the theater when it was released (yes, that's right, I admitted that in public) was its unabashed pro-psilocybin message. Eat the mushroom! The mushroom is your friend! Eat it!

It's advice I have taken regularly since seeing it. I mean, I was eating shrooms BEFORE I saw Super Mario Bros, but once I had a movie this completely bizarre giving me orders to eat them, how could I possibly not continue?
posted by hippybear at 12:31 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just want to chime in that I never saw the movie as a kid, I only discovered it several years ago, and I think it's kind of great. I don't understand all the reflexive hate for it, and a lot of the criticism revolves around it not being 'super mario bros' enough. I did watch the super mario bros super show when I was a kid. Is that SMB enough? Because that show was terrible.

SMB the movie on the other hand starts with a shot of a jungle and the subtitle 'Brooklyn, 65 million years ago'. Two dinosaurs then walk on to the scene and start talking in Brooklyn accents. That's comedy gold! And if it weren't in the SMB movie, I feel like most people would agree. I also feel like the movie does capture the whimsy and absurdity of the property, so yah. I agree with the directors' assements. It's kind of a mess, but there's a lot of great stuff in there.
posted by Alex404 at 1:02 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think most of the hate aimed at it is because of the license. If it were released under a different title and everyone had different names, it would have been received as a reasonably fun if forgettable movie (★★☆☆)
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:25 AM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Nothing has a better chance of ruining an adaptation than a writer or director who hates the source material and wants to make it something else. Only Stanley Kubrick can pull this off.
posted by painquale at 1:32 AM on June 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Also, Dennis Hopper!
posted by atoxyl at 1:56 AM on June 10, 2016


There is a very good chance that the original Clement/La Frenais script was decent: they're veterans of the UK film and TV industry with many great credits to their names. On the other hand Parker Bennett and Terry Runte, who did the revised script, have three credits between them: this, the abomination that was the hacked-together, ruined release of Richard Williams' The Thief and the Cobbler, and an early Ethan Hawke movie called Mystery Date which grossed $6m.

The lesson Hollywood never learns: get the script right before you start hiring actors and building the sets.
posted by Hogshead at 2:15 AM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Nothing has a better chance of ruining an adaptation than a writer or director who hates the source material and wants to make it something else. Only Stanley Kubrick can pull this off.
Or Paul Verhoeven, to be fair.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:06 AM on June 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


Watching it was no day at the beach, either.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:14 AM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


The mobile version of that site is as miserable as the SMB movie. It won't let me scroll. I try and it yanks me right back to the start, or it decides I really wanted to be halfway to the end.

Look Web designers, just because you CAN do that doesn't mean you should.
posted by sotonohito at 3:59 AM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


The directors sound terrible. The original script sounds terrible. The replacement script also sounds terrible, and what's more the directors thought it was terrible because they liked the original terrible script.

Telling terrible directors to direct a terrible script that they actively think is terrible is probably a terrible idea.
posted by kyrademon at 4:03 AM on June 10, 2016


They had a problem because Mario, who’s the elder brother, didn’t have any parents and so Mario raised Luigi as a mother and a father and Luigi always resented that, and never really had the big brother that he always wanted. He just had this beefy mother figure. That was their problem and they had to resolve that while they had this wild adventure saving with world from these dinosaurs that had evolved into these humanoid figures, and deliberately distorting the story, because this is the true story of the Mario Bros.

I really should have read this article before playing through the Turing Test minigame, because after reading this paragraph, I was desperately looking for a button labeled "COMPUTER_" to push.
posted by Mayor West at 4:30 AM on June 10, 2016 [19 favorites]


Weird that the co-directors seemed so out of their depth, they'd done Max Headroom and the D.O.A remake before this so they weren't exactly rookies. This film seems to have killed their careers dead though, they've done some music videos since and not much else.
posted by octothorpe at 4:37 AM on June 10, 2016


> I said to Annabel, I said, ‘This script is terrible but I think this could be our Batman!’

I'm sure that Tim Burton, earlier, had read the script for Batman and said, "This script is terrible but I'm sure this could be my Zardoz!"
posted by ardgedee at 4:47 AM on June 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


". One day, we’d be on set and the actor would pick up the crystal but it wouldn’t work with the continuity. Someone would say, ‘You can’t pick that crystal up because we’re shooting out of sequence. If you look on page 24 the crystal is actually here.’ And we’d think, oh god, yeah, it’s a mistake!"
posted by I-baLL at 4:49 AM on June 10, 2016


> "How did Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo end up being casted as Mario and Luigi?" "Well, Danny De Vito turned us down."

This whole interview reads like a lesson on the importance of knowing when to stop digging that hole.
posted by ardgedee at 4:50 AM on June 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


... i liked the movie
posted by rebent at 5:02 AM on June 10, 2016


I have a strong memory of seeing ads for the action figures from this movie advertised at 6 or 7 AM on Saturday mornings for YEARS after it left theaters. Somewhere there was a warehouse full of little plastic Hoskins, Leguizamos and Hoppers.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 5:17 AM on June 10, 2016


A college friend of mine was in one of the Goomba suits. Reportedly, his Goomba Wrangler was unattentive one day during filming, and he passed out from overheating and they had to cut him out of the suit.

I say this mostly because "Goomba Wrangler" would be an awesome thing to put on one's resume.
posted by delfin at 5:48 AM on June 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


Guys I'm really worried Tim Burton will see this thread and try to make a Super a Mario Brothers movie
posted by beerperson at 6:57 AM on June 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Johnny Depp as a lakitu who for some reason is in the whole film
posted by beerperson at 6:58 AM on June 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


Helena Bonham Carter as a chain chomp
posted by beerperson at 7:00 AM on June 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


Wow, John Leguizamo was such a cute kid back then.
posted by Splunge at 7:01 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Christopher Plummer and Crispen Glover as Mario and Luigi
posted by beerperson at 7:03 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


My Dad: I actually think he was going a little meta there. I'm guessing that what he meant was that in the world of the movie, the Japanese found out about the story the film depicts, but got it wrong.
posted by WCityMike at 7:09 AM on June 10, 2016


If he can get Jack Nicholson or Michael Keaton as Bowser, he might have something.


Also, Willem Dafoe as Bullet Bill. I don't know why- it just works.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:22 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Actually, I'd really like to see Werner Herzog's Super Mario Brothers.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:23 AM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


My Mario movie reboot:
We open with Manhattan in the distant past. Monsters roam the island and Indians battle them. A shaman casts a magic spell opening a deep hole in the ground and trapping the monsters. Then a huge rock slide closes the hole.

Present day.
Mario and Luigi are New York City Sandhogs -- the guys who dig and maintain on the underground tunnels and sewers in New York City. A princess visiting the UN is getting a tour of one of the new subway tunnels with her diplomatic delegation. At that moment a construction crew accidentally breaks into the long dormant cave of the monsters. Pandemonium breaks loose. Mario and Luigi try to help the princess who is isolate from her group escape. She is captured by the leader of the monsters and they go rescue her. Along the way they find ancient artifacts that give them some of the abilities in the game.
posted by humanfont at 8:05 AM on June 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


I've always had a weird amount of respect for the SMB movie. It took highly commercial property and turned it a truly bizarre story, in the expectation that the audience would be delighted to ride along with the madness. In an avant-garde, or otherwise self-consciously uncommercial work, it's unremarkable for costumes to be strange, for odd things to show up here and there, and so on - like hearing about a dream, you stop expecting what could happen next, and very often you stop caring at all.

But, no, SMB actually thinks it makes sense. It's telling you this whopper of a tale, like Norm MacDonald telling a shaggy dog story, except without any irony whatsoever. It's genuinely crazy.

Too bad it's not better, though.

Now, Nothing But Trouble, now there's a legitimately awesome movie in the same crazy-story vein.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:28 AM on June 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


I love how this article leads with "How did Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo end up being casted as Mario and Luigi?" and totally buries the fact that Dennis Fucking Hopper was also in it. The screen magic between them is palpable. Also Hopper's costume and wardrobe seems to be based on 1993 Donald Trump, which makes Koopa's transformation and demise strangely topical. Bonus link: fawning behind the scenes promo.

Another bad-idea videogame film from this era is Street Fighter. Notable for being Raúl Juliá'a ignominious last film. Wikipedia notes "The staff of Universal Pictures paid homage to him by dedicating Street Fighter to his memory". Perhaps it would have been kinder to not.

The Warcraft movie is out now!
posted by Nelson at 8:39 AM on June 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


You guys... the perfect Mario Bros. movie has already been made.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:23 AM on June 10, 2016


I'd expect the original script to be good, perhaps excellent, as Clement and La Frenais can write superb two-header episodic character comedies (as any British TV viewer of the 70s and 80s will attest). That sounds like a good fit for Mario.

As for Hoskins' characterisation of the directing as arrogance masquerading as talent, that seems entirely compatible with having to take a really, really crass script and make it in a tearing hurry without enough resources. You'd have to be dictatorial and apparently on board with a succession of terrible decisions, because otherwise how are you going to do it? Which is not to say that Hoskins was wrong, necessarily, but you could be a perfectly competent, useful, humane person and still have to look like a pulsating jerk under those conditions.
posted by Devonian at 10:09 AM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Reportedly, Nintendo had final word on the movie and was given the option to bury the film. Ultimately they approved the release, deciding it was sooo bad that it had no chance to harm the brand rather than risk having it hang over them and spend the next several decades dodging questions about it a la "The Day the Clown Cried".
posted by dances with hamsters at 11:03 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not only did Nintendo not bury it, they hyped it in Nintendo Power.
posted by JHarris at 11:32 AM on June 10, 2016


(Previously discussed on Metafilter: Street Fighter.)
posted by usonian at 12:03 PM on June 10, 2016


>Also, Dennis Hopper!<
And Sonny! And Cher!

or, maybe I am confused :/
posted by twidget at 12:14 PM on June 10, 2016


Having a studio rep walking up to you a week before filming starts and handing you a script that's pretty much a complete rewrite must be the director's version of that nightmare about being back in school and remembering this class that you've forgotten about all semester and today's the final.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:23 PM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I did like their Max Headroom movie A lot, so there's that. I guess "let's make Mario Bros into dystopian cyberpunk!" makes a little more sense given they did that, but not much.
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on June 10, 2016


according to John Leguizamo's autobiography, he and Hoskins adapted to the shoot by being drunk all the time. ALL THE TIME.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 2:07 PM on June 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


That might make things slightly difficult for everyone else, yes.
posted by Artw at 2:38 PM on June 10, 2016


Nothing has a better chance of ruining an adaptation than a writer or director who hates the source material and wants to make it something else. Only Stanley Kubrick can pull this off.

This seems like a universal in video game movies. If you don't like the source material, don't buy the fucking license!
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:10 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Duncan Jones loves Warcraft. Still... big in China!
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


The international box office for Warcraft is way beyond what the industry is expecting. Whether it plays with a domestic US audience remains to be seen. It's important to remember, this is a Warcraft movie, not a WoW movie.
posted by hippybear at 3:18 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


It looks like garbage, but feel sorry for Zowie so I hope this cheers him up.
posted by Artw at 3:22 PM on June 10, 2016


Coming at this as someone who (a) didn't see the film until I was an grown-assed old person, decades after playing any of the Mario games, (b) will typically choose dental surgery over watching a film inspired by a video game or comic book, and (c) thinks all of the plot elements of the Super Mario games were shockingly bad, and the only reason they retain a place in our culture is decent gameplay, corporate politics, and embarrassing gen-X nostalgia. . . I enjoyed the movie.

It's not a great film, by any means. There are stupid plot holes, sexist bullshit, cringe-worthy writing, and an understanding of evolution that would bring tears to the eyes of seventh grade science students. But that's true of 95% of the films shown in theaters. Except the evolution thing, 'cause the vast majority of them don't even try to discuss anything so abstract and edgy. But it's fun, and throws in just enough (ham-handed) class consciousness and dark visual humor to nudge me past the dumb jokey writing.

The film world doesn't have much to do with the video game world. But, that's a fine thing; a film based on the actual game would be unwatchably boring. And an underworld Manhattan filled with goofy dinosaur muppets is pretty neat. If you stop asking, "what does this have to do with the game," and instead view the whole thing as a low-budget Labyrinth wannabe, it's a lot of fun. If you're going to make a shit film, at least make a very strange and occasionally funny shit film.

(If the same team reconvened to produce film adaptions of Eric Garcia's Dinosaur Mafia series, I'd happily stand in line.)
posted by eotvos at 3:33 PM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I had a Rifftrax coupon and Super Mario Brothers was on Netflix...
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:21 PM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, Dennis Hopper!

Also, Mojo Nixon!
posted by CCBC at 11:48 PM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also, Mojo Nixon!

Yes! I'm glad someone else remembers that. He is a street busker singing anti-koopa protest songs and gets taken and turned into as part of Dennis Hopper King Koopa Dennis Hoppers crazy experiments. And he's "Toad" which is apparently becomes some sort of lizard in this movie.

This movie is so fucking weird, with a good cast, I actually liked all the sparking cars and physical stunts, its just ... got fuck-all to do with SMB.
I mean, its not a great movie at all, but I've watched way worse "cult classics".
posted by lkc at 2:08 PM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


And since it hasn't been posted yet:
“I made a picture called Super Mario Bros., and my six-year-old son at the time — he’s now 18 — he said, 'Dad, I think you’re probably a pretty good actor, but why did you play that terrible guy King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.?' and I said, 'Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes,' and he said, 'Dad, I don’t need shoes that badly.'”
—Dennis Hopper, on Late Night with Conan O’Brien (2008)
posted by dannyboybell at 3:13 PM on June 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


A girl from the year ahead of me in high school had a small role in this. I think after that she pretty much dropped out of acting.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:21 PM on June 11, 2016


It looks like garbage, but feel sorry for Zowie so I hope this cheers him up.

My only hope for Warcraft is he gets a big enough paycheque to keep making movies like Moon and Source Code.

That's not true. I also wanted someone in the movie to says "Yes, My Lord" and "Zug-Zug". But that wasn't in the trailer so they lost a sale.
posted by Gary at 3:17 PM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


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