What Would Harold Ramis’ Super Mario Movie Have Looked Like?

No Dennis Hopper, for one thing
What Would Harold Ramis’ Super Mario Movie Have Looked Like?

Children, adult gamers and fans of anthropomorphized fungi with the ability to operate go-karts are likely pretty hyped for the new Super Mario Bros. Movie featuring the voices of Chris Pratt — who, from all accounts, is not doing an offensive, Chef Boyardee-esque accent — as well as Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy and Jack Black.

Of course, this isn't the first attempt at making a Super Mario movie; famously, there was the misbegotten 1990s cyberpunk adaptation, best known for baffling/traumatizing an entire generation of children.

Except things could have gone very differently. Instead of a grimy urban nightmare, the Super Mario Bros. movie was nearly a lighthearted adventure directed by a legit comedy legend: Harold Ramis. In 2009, Ramis revealed that producer Roland Joffé had approached him about directing the film, recalling: I took the meeting because I loved the game, adding, Im glad I said no. The Associated Press even noted that this was Ramis smartest career decision.

But, importantly, the script Ramis was offered wasn't the one that gave us the movie in which Dennis Hopper wields a bazooka that can turn people into monkeys.

The first screenplay commissioned for the project was written by Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker, originally for director Greg Beeman (who was later fired). They envisioned a movie in keeping with the original game but more of a Wizard of Oz-type story in the same vein as The Princess Bride and the later Shrek series.

Jennewein and Parkers script similarly opened in the real world. However, in this version of the story, Mario is deep in debt to a brutal mobster and heartbroken because his fiancée left him at the altar and had an affair with the caterer, which sounds far worse than any piranha plant or spinning blade.  

Buena Vista Pictures

Mario and Luigi get sucked into the fantastical world of the video game after stumbling upon a warp pipe which is, oddly, housed in the back of an abandoned diner.

Buena Vista Pictures

The pair meet up with Toad and go on an epic quest to save Luigi's love interest, whos been kidnapped by Koopa. In the end, Mario faces off with Koopa, which again feels more like the Nintendo game, and even delivers the Schwarzenegger-like quip, Game over.

Buena Vista Pictures

While the script is far from perfect, one cant help but imagine that it would have been improved once filtered through Ramis comedic sensibilities. Since his directorial resume was still relatively light at the time (his previous movie before the Mario offer was the Robin Williams-starring bomb Club Paradise), one would imagine that Ramis name came up because of his work co-writing Ghostbusters, another story about working-class New Yorkers who end up battling the forces of evil. 

Incidentally, even though Ramis passed, once directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel were hired to make Super Mario Bros., the first script commissioned for the Max Headroom creators was specifically inspired by Ghostbusters, with writers Parker Bennett and Terry Runté depicting Mario as a Peter Venkman-type — hopefully without the random doses of Thorazine.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you're reading this).  

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