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MOVIES : The Bros. Mario Get Super Large : Take the world's most popular video game, add $40 million, some Koopa Troopa turtles, two rewrite-happy directors and outspoken actors like Dennis Hopper and Bob Hoskins, then mix together in a deserted cement factory . . .

August 16, 1992|RICHARD STAYTON | Richard Stayton is a playwright and free-lance journalist. and

Now the day's shot is about to erupt in Koopa Square. On the ground level, the bent and broken prop cars are revved by the tattooed and long-haired bikers hired as drivers. On the iron-grate catwalks above, Hoskins in his Mario blue coveralls and Hopper in his black lizard-skin suit prepare for their climactic duel. Above them dangles a multi-ton coal hopper. Above that drifts the fungus. Hundreds of extras costumed in New Brutalism chic rush to-and-fro on the Dinoyork sidewalks.

"Action!"

The cars roar in circles below as Hopper and Hoskins march between flames gushing through the grates. Sparks spill from angry generators five stories above in the ceiling, drift down like fiery, spent bullets.

And suddenly there is silence. The cars have stopped driving in circles on the ground floor.

A scene costing $100,000 is frozen in time, suspended as the directors exchange panicked expressions. Who stopped the action? Who's in charge here?

The answer is heard from the street below. A driver, shouting, tattooed arms flailing, has leaped from his car and pours a soft drink down his jeans. A spark had set fire to his underpants.

Later, Hoskins sits in his trailer and puts the epic struggles of moviemaking into perspective: "After I did 'Roger Rabbit,' my younger son wouldn't talk to me. It took me about two weeks to figure out that he reckoned that any father who had friends like Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck, and who didn't bring them home to meet him, well, his father was a total (jerk). The basic premise of all this business is that everybody's totally insane. They are. They are completely insane. And that's wonderful."

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