Another videogame adaptation, another barrel-load of controversy! Are you tired yet? Well, at least it doesn’t revolve around the clothing of a female fictional character this time. No, this controversy centers on the announced casting for the 2022 Super Mario movie! As Charles Martinet’s famous plumber would say – “Woo hoo!”
“This is ridiculous!” cries the internet, “Chris Pratt isn’t Italian – and his voice doesn’t suit Mario! And Jack Black as Bowser? Are you kidding me? What the frig?” The big question is on everyone’s lips. Why these people? Why these actors above everybody else?
Well, allow me to answer it for you…
Money, Money, Money is So Funny in a Plumber’s World
Like all great endeavors in human history, the Mario movie’s casting choices are surely motivated by money. Come on – it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to wonder why this cast was chosen above all others. Chris Pratt is an actor who has proven his worth in both comedic and action-adventure roles. He’s a big box office draw – the Jurassic World films have an estimated lifetime gross of $1,069,990,385 while the Guardians of the Galaxy films have accumulated $722,989,701. Chris Pratt has also shown he can voice a successful animated film in Pixar’s Onward.
Look, if you’re complaining that Charles Martinet isn’t reprising his iconic role, I hear ya, I really do. To some, the fact the seasoned voice artist is being regulated to cameos is an unforgivable crime. But here’s the thing – Martinet’s name doesn’t sell movie tickets. Chris Pratt’s name does. You can get on top of Twitter’s virtual mountain, raise your coded pitch-forks and cry to the HTTP heavens, but the truth is, the studios need big names to make money and that’s that.
But you know what? I’ll defend Jack Black to my grave. It appears the actor was chosen due to his success in the new Jumanji films. But his vibrant personality and inability to take himself seriously is perfect for Bowser. Out of all the choices presented thus far, he’s easily the best suited to his own character.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Nintendo devotees are no doubt peeved at the casting. But it’s also important to remember that actors have surprised us with their talents before. Before Heath Ledger’s oft-lauded performance as the Joker, he was derided for not living up to the imaginations of comic book lovers. And Tom Cruise’s performance in Tropic Thunder was unexpectedly brilliant (and comedy isn’t usually his forte!). Who’s to say that Pratt, Black, and co. can’t surprise us with something good like the actors just mentioned?
The Super Mario Bros. movie at least utilizes comic actors. As well as Pratt and Black, we have the likes of Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) joining the cast as Luigi. And we haven’t even talked about Seth Rogen, who has proven his comedic talents in the adult-animated feature Sausage Party among other works. Most of the cast is talented and experienced actors in comedy – and in the quirky world of the Super Mario Brothers, that’s something that can only be an advantage to the film.
It’s-A-Not Bad, Mario
As much as Mario lovers may wish, Charles Martinet was never going to be the star of this film. His name doesn’t exactly sell tickets and while many have heard the Mario voice, far fewer know the name behind it. Chris Pratt, alongside Charlie Day, Keegan-Michael Key, Kevin Michael Richardson, and more are far more recognizable and have more respect in Hollywood to warrant roles in the Super Mario movie.
The big obstacle this movie has is portraying Super Mario Bros. characters that have mostly been dialogue-free for the series. The only game to feature dialogue-led cutscenes is Super Mario Sunshine, which, funnily enough, is oft-derided for its poor voice-acting (I can assure you that, whatever this movie’s outcome, it’ll never surpass this game in terms of bad voice-acting). The movie, therefore, has a responsibility to flesh out characters that are largely one-note.
To me, therefore, the challenge posed by the Mario Bros. movie lies not so much in casting, but in the story. For starters, it’s going to have to shake off the franchise’s trend of Peach getting abducted by Bowser. As a simplistic plot cliche to kick off a game is all well and good. However, this tiresome plot element doesn’t quite fly in modern movies. If the movie is going to succeed, it’s going to have to make its sole female character as interesting as the other characters.
Super Mario! Wah-Hoo
After the announcement, Chris Pratt uploaded an Instagram video expressing his love for the character and winning his dream role. He ended the video by saying the iconic ‘It’s-A-Me, Mario!” line, albeit without putting on a voice. He then said the voice is a work-in-progress and that all shall be revealed soon.
Despite the sincerity of the video, it’s unlikely it helped sway the doubters. But the truth is, the only way we’ll know if Chris Pratt is bad as Mario is when the Super Mario movie releases in 2022. I know that nowadays, in the Internet Age, making a full judgement on something based on actually consuming the full product itself is considered old-fashioned. But at the end of the day, you can only know something is bad by actually experiencing it.
And, as another controversy enflames the internet, I hope Chris Pratt and company succeed in their voice roles for Mario. Just as importantly, I hope the movie’s story takes what makes Mario great and does it justice. Until then, I’ll see you when the next batch of info surrounding the film releases, where fans will become enflamed that Peach gets to do something other than being kidnapped. Watch this space.
What do you think about Chris Pratt being the voice of Mario in the Super Mario Bros. movie, and do you feel it’s a bad choice? If you dislike the choices, what would you change? Let us know in the comments below.