There’s only one real problem with the Super Mario Bros. movie: its name.
I saw this so-called video game adaptation for the first time in 1993, shortly after it came out on video. My memory of it—carrying forward through nearly three decades since—was of a mind-bogglingly weird movie that had nothing to do with the game, made no sense, and was a beautiful train wreck of a thing. Upon rewatching it as an adult I expected to have the same reaction and was looking forward to enjoying what was certainly a movie that’s so bad, it’s good.
But taking another look at Super Mario Bros. turned out to be so surprising that it bordered on horrifying. Luigi just said something funny. I laughed at it. This dinosaur-themed dystopia looks really cool. I don’t understand. Why isn’t this a bad movie?
That’s the trick to Super Mario Bros. If you’re not intent on it being about a video game, it becomes an engaging, well-acted (mostly), fascinating, original story. And it pulls this off almost completely by accident.