No Country for Super Mario Bros.

[Morning. MARIO's cottage in the Mushroom Kingdom. The interior is cozy, with a fire going in the fireplace. Mario sits at a table, sharpening a knife on a block. TOAD rushes in.]

TOAD: Mario! I have terrible news! The Princess -

MARIO: - has been kidnapped.

T: Yes.

M: By Bowser. Or Bowser Jr. Or any one of the freaks that breed around here.

T: Bowser this time.

M: Uh-huh.

[He continues to sharpen the knife.]

M: And you're telling me this. Because?

T: Because the Mushroom King needs you to rescue Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser?

M: And to do this, all I need to do is go and kick some ass in a dozen castles, or get some stars, or something.

T: Of course! Is there... is there some other way?

M: Tell me, Toad. Why did your parents name you Toad?

T: Sorry?

M: Why did your parents name you Toad?

T: I don't follow.

M: [grabs Toad by his collar and shoves the knife against his throat] WHY - DID - YOUR- PARENTS - NAME - YOU - TOAD?

T: I don't know!

M: I think they wanted to teach you a lesson about dignity.

T: My parents raised me very well, I'd like to think.

M: But maybe they failed to be explicit about a few things. Maybe they thought, "We've given him the dumbest name in the Tri-State area, maybe he'll figure it out for himself".

T: Figure it out?

M: Tell me this: how much dignity is there in putting on a frog suit? Or a bee suit? Or a raccoon suit?

T: I'm expected back at the castle. They'll start to wonder where I am very soon.

M: I'm going to present you with a scenario. Let's say you're in a big hurry and you've been traveling for days. You show up in a town that's nothing but a bunch of platforms floating over water. And the only way you're getting from one end of that place to the other is to put on a suit that makes you look like a frog. Or maybe you catch a falling leaf, and then suddenly you've got a raccoon tail. With raccoon ears. That's not dignity, Toad.

T: I guess not.

M: No, you guess not. How about busting your ass while you're dressed up as a bee? And finally, when you get to the castle, and you drop some oversized dinosaur in lava — ah heck, why am I telling you this? You know what happens next.

T: Yes, you vanquish the offspring of Bowser -

M: And then?

T: And then I -

M: And then you, Toad. You. You show up and tell me that the Princess is another castle. Do you know hard that is to take, to see you running at me, with your weird fat head and your tiny arms? I mean, what the fuck are you?

T: Uh -

M: And why don't you just send me to the right castle? Why make me go through all that stuff?

T: Uh -

M: It hurts, you evil little bastard.

T: As you speak, Bowser may be doing unspeakable things to the Princess.

M: Yeaaaah. Have you ever stopped to wonder why she's always getting herself kidnapped?

T: Bowser's good at exploiting flaws in our security?

M: I've saved her a lot of times. A lot. And the most I've ever gotten in return is a kiss. The best I can hope for from her is a round of go-kart racing. I think Peach is getting her cobbler on with the spiny kind.

T: You've lost me.

M: Here's what I'm going to do for you. [goes to drawer, takes out a gun and hands it to Toad] You take this. It's a gift, from me to you. Take a walk to Bowser's castle and shoot him. Pop him twice in the chest and once between the eyes. Or back of the head, whatever. Just make to sure to put one in the brain.

[Mario places the gun in Toad's hand and sits back down at the table. Toad gazes at the gun, sizing up his options. He raises it to Mario's head.]

T: Thanks for the good advice, bro.

[Toad pulls the trigger. An empty click. He squeezes the trigger repeatedly. Empty.]

M: Yeah, that's what I thought.

[Mario holds up the ammunition clip. Toad drops the gun and runs out. Mario looks down at the gun, picks it up and goes to the open door. He watches Toad's retreating figure.]

M: She'll be back when she gets bored!

[He shuts the door and puts the gun in the waistband of his pants. He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly.]

M: Ah, I'd better go kill him.

[He opens the door and goes out.]