Oliver’s World: Super Mario Bros. is bigger, longer and uncut
Forget about the “Justice League” Snyder Cut.
Everyone stop clamoring for the fabled “Butthole Cut” of the musical “Cats.”
Somewhere, somehow, in the depths and tangles of Hollywood, an extended cut of the “Super Mario Brothers” movie has been discovered.
And it’s now online.
The original 1993 release, starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, was a film that a lot of people really wanted to see at the time. But the end result left people very, um, divided.
I personally have fond memories of watching the movie as a kid, and especially enjoyed Hoskin’s real-life depiction of the famous red-suited videogame character. Every time I've watched the movie as an adult, however, I immediately see how the tone, the characters, the jokes — and nearly everything else in it — is disjointed and clunky.
It's not a very smooth or wonderful movie.
The set design, though, is utterly impressive. They really do not physically make movies like this anymore. At certain points in the film, Mario actually looks and feels like what I imagined him to be. The effects work well, there is a real charm to the movie — despite it being a total mess.
Fans, of course, are excited at the prospect of seeing even a second more of the film, let alone 20 extra minutes, which is what the extended cut promises. As a film fan in general, I was curious how this even came about. The movie is nearly 30 years old, and most people have disowned it. Bob Hoskins went on record multiple times trashing the movie, saying that his experience filming it was horrible. I'd say he deserves a lot of praise as an actor for doing such a good job anyway.
Hoskins is in no way among the problems in the movie.
He really carries it.
Restoring deleted scenes from a movie made in that era usually involves getting the actual film negative, the physical celluloid it's printed on. That means either visiting the archives on a studio’s back lot, or journeying to the salt mines.
Yes, salt mines.
Some studios really do rent or buy salt mines to store and preserve film in. This is all a fair amount of work. And one would assume the effort is made for a reason. There’s no point in storing film footage and never doing anything with it, right?
So, does that mean that all buried scripts and leftover footage will result in new and/or extend cut movies? Are studios really going through all this old footage and doing something with it? Is there hope for fans of Frank Capra's 1937 “Lost Horizon,” breathlessly wishing for the film to be restored to it's original 210 minute version
Maybe, but probably not, since "Lost Horizon“ lacks the die hard fans that Mario has.
In Mario’s case, what happened was this. Fans of the film, which has earned quite the cult following over the years, got in contact with one of the original producers, who had a VHS of the film, which turned out to be an earlier cut from the one released in theaters. This was in 2019, and after years of back-and-forth, a digital transfer has been completed and released online.
This was all accomplished outside the studio, and without input or permission from the original directors, Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel. It was done through a certain people with the right connections being in the right place at the right time.
The is no “fan edit” we are talking about either. At one point, this was a potential variation of the film that was genuinely going to be released to the public, but was later rejected.
And thanks to this one-of-a-kind VHS tape that just happened to have been saved for years, the one-of-a-kind film — which dozens, if not hundreds or maybe thousands of people have expressed a desire to see — has now been uploaded onto the Internet Archive site for those so curious. The extended cut includes a different intro to the film, a small rap number, and some obviously unfinished audio mixing.
It is indeed a “discovery.”
But it's not an extra life the movie really needed.
It makes sense for the studio to have wanted "The Mario Bros.“ to be a bit shorter. The theatrical release — which was a children's movie, after all — was 104 minutes.
This one is 124 minutes.
To me, cutting some time out of it sounds reasonable.
After all, who could possible stare at Mario for over two hours?
Oliver’s World runs every other week in the Argus-Courier. Oliver Graves is a stand-up comic and writer. His website is OliverGraves.com.