Pixels, the action/comedy film inspired, in part, by 1980s video games, hit theaters nationwide this weekend. Starring Adam Sandler (Punch Drunk Love, Grown Ups 2), Kevin James (Grown Ups 2, The King of Queens), Michelle Monaghan (True Detective), and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones, X-Men: Days of Future Past), Pixels revolves around aliens using classic video games as models to attack the Earth, leaving Sandler, et. al, to defend the Earth with their gaming prowess. The movie obviously seems to be aiming at the nostalgia centers of folks who grew up playing Pac-Man, Galaga, and other games of yesteryear. Now, I hate to dismiss the film offhand before even viewing it, but if you’re looking for entertainment to fill that sense of nostalgia a hair better than Pixels, maybe take a gander at these video game-inspired offerings from film and television.
In the late 1980s, Fred Savage, gaining fame from his role as Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years, was America’s teen heartthrob. (Yes, really.) In 1989, he hit the big screen as one of the leads in The Wizard, essentially a 90 minute commercial for Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 3. The film follows Savage stars as Corey, who breaks his younger brother Jimmy out of a mental institution, as Jimmy has become increasingly withdrawn after the death of his twin sister.
They head to California for some reason and Jimmy, a video game “wizard,” competes in tournament for $50,000, with the final round involving Super Mario Bros. 3. Honestly, I don’t remember much about the movie other than the basic plot and having a nerdgasm at seeing Raccoon Mario for the first time. That alone is worth more than anything Sandler could offer.
Captain N: The Game Master
Long story short: Captain N: The Game Master followed Kevin Keene and his dog Duke after they get sucked into Videoland through a warp zone in his TV. I swear I’m not taking drugs. Armed with a Nintendo zapper and a belt buckle shaped like an old-school Nintendo controller, he teams up with Princess Lana, acting ruler of Videoland, and characters from Nintendo video games such as Simon Belmont and Mega Man to fight off the hordes of Mother Brain, Dr. Wily, and some shitty, lower-tiered video game villains. While I always got a little pissy that Link, Zelda, and other major Nintendo characters weren’t featured as often as I would have liked, 10-year-old me sometimes pretended I was Captain N, pretending to use my Nintendo zapper to fight villains and stave off adulthood.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
(Note: PLEASE watch the above video. Seriously, you won’t not smile. It’s impossible.)
The broadcast history of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! is long and winding and, really, too extensive to go into here. The main takeaway is that the show focused on live-action versions of plumber brothers and kingdom-savers Mario and Luigi, portrayed by WWE Hall of Famer Captain Lou Albano and Danny Wells, who would sometimes have C-squad celebrities of the day visit, such as Nicole Eggert or Danica McKellar (although the series did feature guests Sgt. Slaughter and Magic Johnson and a pre-Oz Ernie Hudson as a Ghostbuster at different points, so there’s that). While Lou and the occasional Magic were cool and all (seriously), I mainly watched for the animated portions of the show, which featured adventures with Mario and Luigi, usually thwarting some needlessly convoluted plan contrived by King Koopa. And while the series ran five days a week, on Fridays the cartoon segments centered on the world of Princess Zelda and Link, which I always looked forward to. Sure, the depictions of Zelda and Link were less-than-flattering (they were straight-up assholes), I took what I could get and shut my whiny mouth.
Super Mario Bros.
The Super Mario Bros. film, starring Dennis Hopper and Bob Hoskins, was… Just kidding. Fuck that movie.
Here’s Milli Vanilli on The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 for some reason.