I'm going to step out on a limb here and say this one might be the most "well known" bad movie I'll have reviewed yet. I mean sure, Ed Wood is hella well known and I reviewed his best known film, Plan 9 From Outer Space, but unless you actively search that out and watch it, you don't know it. I say this movie is more popular cause at least (at the time of my writing this) a lot of people grew up with this movie, remember it, and find it as incomprehensible as I do.
The real problem with this movie is not that it's nothing like the game, the problem is that it's completely awful no matter how you look at it. It walks that interesting line between kid and adult movie (which was weird cause the original Nintendo was definitely not aimed at adults...) and it has some remnants of times when kids films were dark and/or weird, but where that normally makes a film better in this case it makes it worse.
First complaint is some minor things: number one the names?! They gave both the guys the last name Mario, so that it's Mario Mario and Luigi Mario? What the fuck where they thinking? It's not funny, clever, interesting, unique, kid friendly. It makes no sense and makes actual fans of the characters feel stupid. Like, why did I like these guys? Number two the goombas. There are a plethora of weird monsters in this film, most not from the game, and that's okay. But you take something that was 1) iconic, and 2) would've looked cool depicted on the screen, and then you change everything about it? Why couldn't we have had short weird looking dinosaur goombas? Instead they had to make them giant? With tiny heads? You took the two things that made a goomba, short and big head, and then you made the opposite.
The list could go on for this whole page, this is just a sampling. The major flaws in this movie are the apparent overweight, useless stars, the look and hair of Dennis Hopper as Koopa, the whole thing they did with the Italian stereotypes, the lack of charm or wit, and the level of intelligence it aims at. You can ask, "yeah, well how would you have made it better?" Well, I wouldn't have. Not everything should be made into a fucking movie. This is a clear case of that. There was no need to try and take a very simple idea and make some ridiculous movie out of it. However, I was thinking while watching it that I wonder, since being a nerd is so popular right now, if they'll ever try to do it again. They'd probably do it animated this time though. And I bet somehow, it won't be any better.
And that's the flip side, the silver lining to this movie. What was intentionally supposed to be childish fun is fantastic to watch with friends, with beer, with drugs, with riffing, with intolerance and hatred...this movie will bring every critical argument out of you as you search your life for meaning in comparison to the bizarre reality of this film. One cannot justify one's existence in a world where this film exists, so watching it is an extreme dive into surrealism.
It's just that this movie feels far too weird. It obviously had a large budget, tons of time and talent that went to work on it, and (at points) some potential for entertainment. They got the pacing done adequately well, they got some real actors and some (sometimes) decent effects....so what the FUCK!? What went wrong??! It's just confusing, weird, hard to watch, easy to get lost in the silliness of it all...it's damn near perfect.
I guess one should play the game first. That will just give you a better appreciation for the source material. Get on the fucking internet and watch some guy playing it at least, and don't watch someone really good, watch some random ass video of some 10 year old who is medium good at it, at best. Cause this is the best example of how they got from A to B....how things can get lost in translation.....how people interpret different things....yeah, all those.