Super Mario Bros. – Almost Unreal

As a huge fan of the Super Mario Bros. games, I was ecstatic to learn that they were releasing a film based on the franchise. Although, admittedly, even at a very young age, I struggled to imagine how somebody could base an entire feature-length film on a platform game in which a small plumber makes his way through stage after stage of essentially the same thing. Was there really going to be enough material to work with? How were they going to do it? Live action perhaps? Animation?

What was eventually created seemed far removed from the initial concept of the Super Mario games. For starters, Mario and Luigi weren’t even brothers — defeating the purpose of even calling the film Super Mario Bros.. And Mario’s clothes looked kind of different, as if they’d been purchased at the last minute from a costume shop. They were drab and made Mario look like he’d just ventured out of a mental asylum.

Criticisms end there, however, because Super Mario Bros. is, of course, one of the best children’s films ever made. It’s a film that keeps the kiddies happy, but also has a few jokes for the parents as well. Dennis Hopper as King Koopa is an inspired bit of casting (“Baby wants to fuck!” — great stuff) and the film also stars the great Bob Hoskins in the role he was born to play: an Italian-American plumber with an inconsistent accent.

In terms of emotional depth, it even rivals the critically acclaimed Sonic the Hedgehog films that star Christian Bale (Sonic), Owen Wilson (Tails) and Brian Blessed (Dr. Robotnik). It’s also a film that truly understands its audiences and their expectations, not simply presuming that fans of the Super Mario franchise are complete idiots who will gleeful lap up any half-assed excuse for an adaptation.

Take a look at the trailer.

Fuck…

If you haven’t just had a seizure or keeled over from over-excitement, then congratulations. Did you catch what those letters spelt out? They spelt: “MARIO BROS. MB . M BROS. .. MARIO BROS. . BH JL DH MARIO BROS. SUPER MARIO BROS. Super MARIO BROS.” There were a few clips of some explosions and Bob Hoskins going, “Come and get it, lizard breath!” and it was all exhilaratingly punctuated with letters, some of which actually spelt things.

Now that, my friends, is how you make a movie trailer, very short shots of the expensive and most exciting scenes of your film, intercut with letters that don’t necessarily spell anything, but look cool nonetheless.

Despite the fact that Snap!’s “The Power” is playing in the trailer, this isn’t the official song from the Super Mario Bros. movie. No, that prestigious title goes to the rather brilliant Roxette song “Almost Unreal”, which has a video that pushes the very definition of creativity to its outermost limits. No expense has been spared here and you can tell why it has been chosen as the official song for the Super Mario Bros. film; the song deals with such themes as magic and sex.

“I love when you do that hocus pocus to me.
The way that you touch, you’ve got the power to heal.
You give me that look, it’s almost unreal. It’s almost unreal.”

A perfect accompaniment for a game that entails guiding a bloated plumber across a series of platforms whilst avoiding killer turtles.

Whereas the Super Mario Brothers film appeared to have been created by a team of people who had never played, seen or even heard about the Super Mario Brothers game prior to production, the Roxette video appears to be the product of one drunken man’s interpretation of Super Mario Bros..

“There’s these mushrooms and these, like, shells and shit. Uh — oh, and there’s like a fuckin’ leaf, right, and it makes him shoot fire and shit. He’s got like a red hand, uh…a red hand, uh…or was it white? There’s like — it goes BOOM! Boom, yeah…”

And that’s essentially the video.

The video opens with a silhouetted figure walking towards the camera. We then cut to a shot of a futuristic chair with joysticks and shit attached to it. Suddenly there’s a reveal: a very young and confused-looking Tony from Hollyoaks. He sits down and starts playing a video game. Super Mario Bros.? No, this game’s a stinker and bizarrely consists of directing a Roxette video — the exact same one that Tony happens to be appearing in, which is confusing, hence his little confused face.

Tony.

Tony has opted to give the video a timeless feel, which is why the video looks as if it’s been edited together using a Sega CD. He directs the video by selecting text that pops up on the screen. There’s things like “Props”, “Guitar”, “Vocals Female”, etc. You know, just like in Mario.

After a few shots of Roxette front-woman Marie Fredriksson, Tony cuts back to a shot of his own face again looking confused as he selects random CGI objects to litter the screen with.

Little CGI trinkets. Just like in the game.

What’s in Mario again? Mushrooms? Yeah, so lets throw a CGI mushroom in there. Red, aren’t they — the mushrooms in Super Mario Brothers? Red with little white spots. Well, yes, yes they are. So why then has Tony chosen to use weird-looking grey ones? Whatever. They’ll do, right? As will green nondescript leaves and generic spiky balls.

Why is there a fish?

Tony starts to grow restless and tries to access an option on the screen that reads “Super Mario Brothers Play”. Understandably, he’s already sick of directing this video for the band Roxette. He wants to play some Super Mario Brothers instead, but there’s no time. The chorus kicks in and he’s forced to start selecting some unforgettable moments from the Super Mario Bros. film. But there aren’t any, so Tony decides to choose a few shots of Bob Hoskins looking surprised. There’s also a few explosions!

Shit!

Man, Roxette are rocking now. The sheer force of rock even manages to propel a little CGI plunger towards the screen, as if it were being forced out of a backed-up, shit-filled toilet. It’s pretty exciting stuff. Roxette have the unique power of making me feel nostalgic and overwhelmed with emotion over a few shots of things exploding and Dennis Hopper laughing.

In their words: It's almost unreal.

“Level 2″ appears on the screen, for some reason, as if by conjuring up stupid little animations Tony is somehow progressing in this seemingly aimless video game. But he isn’t.

Eventually, like an escaped euro trash lion, Roxette guitar virtuoso Per Gessle delivers a blistering solo that rocks so hard that a red hand appears on screen along with the text, “WARNING DE-EVOLVE IMMINENT.”

WARNING DATED GRAPHICS IMMINENT!

Tony starts to shit his pants as things begin to rattle and fall apart. The machine can’t comprehend the awesomeness of Roxette. Marie Fredriksson morphs into “Marie Fredriksson, white pantsuit edition” as we, the viewer, stare slack-jawed at the screen.

Suddenly, Tony is hit by lightning bolts and he starts to flail around, waving his arms in a “J-J-Just stop of that!” type fashion. His body starts to slowly shrink leaving a pile of his clothes on the futuristic wonder chair.

Finally, the big reveal: Tony has been transformed into a lizard. Perhaps the work of the kind of “hocus pocus” Roxette warned us about.

:O

The audience is then left pondering the question: “Why? Why Tony?”

It certainly makes you think.

Finally, I’d just like to leave you with one last treat. This is the “Making of…” for the Super Mario Bros. film, which features some really fascinating insights such as, “Mario has brought Luigi up. You know, he’s a much, much younger brother, who’s lost both parents. But in a way, he’s brought him up, not just as a brother — a little brother — but as a friend.”

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