Box-office bombs are a dime a dozen (literally), but there exists an upper echelon of flops so legendary in their, um, floppery that they merit remembrance and occasional tribute, if only for group-watch drinking games and RiffTrax entries—Super Mario Bros. is a prime example of the latter category. Although we have previously argued that, contrary to popular belief, there’s something admirably strange in the Bob Hoskins-John Leguizamo misadventure, we wouldn’t go so far as to say something like, “What that childhood dream-killer of a movie really needs is a restored, 125-minute extended edition.”
And yet, here we are, being witness to the “Morton-Jankel Cut,” which includes a ton of visual corrective work, a bunch more Dennis Hopper-Koopa, and a rap interlude from Iggy and Spike that makes Vanilla Ice’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II cameo sound like an Aesop Rock verse.
“Who among us would dedicate themselves tirelessly to hours of unpaid labor in service of, y’know, the goddamn Super Mario Bros. movie?” you may be asking yourself, to which the easy answer is: filmmaker Garrett Gilchrist, a man who spent the last two years working on said project. But “Who?” is easier to answer than “Why on God’s green earth?” Luckily, Slate recently set out to get to the bottom of that mystery, and wouldn’t you know it? It’s pretty great.
“I’m not saying Mario Bros is that smart, but it’s a lot smarter than you’d think,” Gilchrist argues, which we’ll honestly just take his word on, seeing as how he spent so damn long working on this quest. “...A lot of it is dumb as a bag of hammers, but you can actually follow what’s going on and say, ‘I get what they were doing here.’”
While that still might not exactly sell the film to naysayers, the whole interview lays out the myriad, impressive steps involved in reintroducing such lost treasures as Hopper-Kooper’s implied dementia, AI-assisted color, and audio restorations, and, if nothing else, “The Pipe.”
“I did add the pipe,” Gilchrist confesses at one point. “Somebody’s going to kill me for doing this: I put in the pipe noise when they go down a pipe.”
It’s quite a hill to die on, but it’s a hill that we can’t help but respect.