Today marks an important milestone in movie-making misery: the 20th anniversary of a horrible film called Super Mario Bros.. This ill-fated flick starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as paunchy pipe fitters Mario and Luigi, a pair of New York natives on an inter-dimensional adventure.
Critically mauled upon release, the movie did manage to spark an enthusiastic cult following, something Leguizamo himself is eager to encourage. Speaking to attendees at smbmovie.com’s double decade celebration, the Luigi actor related his fondest memories of the shoot as well as a number of thoughts on the title’s much-lambasted legacy.
“It was one of the first video game movies, so it was tough. It was a first, nobody had ever done it before, and they didn’t really know how to go about it so we were pioneers. We made a lot of great things, we made a lot of mistakes but I’m proud of the movie in retrospect”
In describing Bob Hoskins efforts on the project, a decidedly sore spot on the actor’s otherwise venerable career, Leguizamo is likewise full of praise, stating “he gave it everything he had,” even continuing his work on the project despite a Luigi-inflicted hand injury.
In contrast to his chirpy co-star, Hoskins is well known to have loathed the entire Super Mario Bros. experience, calling it “the worst thing I ever did” and a “nightmare.” The Who Framed Roger Rabbit actor initially came on board as a more bankable alternative to studio-favourites Danny Devito and Tom Hanks, but finished up the project feeling utterly dejected.
Interestingly, Leguizamo himself appeared much more disparaging of the film’s impact back in 2007, when the actor released his autobiography ‘Pimps, Hos, Playas and the Rest of my Hollywood Friends’. In the book Leguizamo admitted to disliking the film to such an extent that both he and Hoskins took to drinking heavily to offset their shared disappointment.
Until the movies came a calling, Mario had never met a medium he couldn’t match. From Saturday morning cartoons to soft drink endorsements, Ninty’s portly plumber was nigh on ubiquitous throughout much of the early 90s. With the mustachioed mascot collecting a King Koopa’s ransom in coins, Hollywood’s hedonistic interest was quickly piqued, though it wasn’t until the Spring of ‘93 that Cinergi’s celluloid stinker finally hit theatres. The film went on to lose a combined 28 million dollars at the box office, a figure so staggering that it all but ensured the death of game-based movies. Though Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat both went on to have monster successes in theatres, confidence in video games movies was on the wane.
For more on the film’s incident-packed production, from over-zealous strippers to an electrocution-sparing drop kick, check out Luguizamo’s video interview.
Will Nintendo ever commission another tie-in production (Wreck-It Ralph aside), or was Super Mario Bros. a flagpole too far? Head to the comments section below to have your say.