Once upon a time, animated movies did not rely on big name celebrities and movie stars to fill out its voice acting ranks. Who but the most diehard Disney fans—or Broadway aficionados—knows for instance that Jodie Benson is the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid? That Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd were voiced by the same guy? That Walt Disney paid Adriana Caselotti little better than scale for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and didn’t even credit her for her work?!
Those days are long gone, as the latest The Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer just reminded us. The movie is a virtual who’s who of movie star talent circa the early 2020s: Jack Black as Bowser, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi… and Chris Pratt as Mario. With the exception of Black, none of the hired actors are doing much to disguise their recognizable cadences in the new trailer, but only one has earned the ire of the internet: and it’s once again Chris Pratt.
Despite starring in some of the biggest movies of the last decade, including Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Infinity War, and the Jurassic World movies, Pratt remains a contentious figure to some on social media. And the fact he’s done little in the way of replicating the iconic work of voice actor Charles Martinett, who has voiced Mario and Luigi in nearly every Nintendo game since Super Mario 64 in 1996, or to sound like anything other than the guy who “tames raptors” in billion-dollar blockbusters has left Twitter aghast. Below are some of the most pained reactions.
One Twitter user for instance, lamented in a viral post that “EVERYONE ELSE” (capitalization theirs) in the voice will be forced to carry the movie for Pratt…
Another seemed to lament that Pratt’s Mario has been crafted in the image of his other onscreen personas such as Star-Lord or Emmet from The Lego Movie, which is to say a screw-up who takes credit for his significant other’s competence (in this case Princess Peach):
Some even humorously relate to the character of Donkey Kong, who is featured in the trailer of going bananas on Pratt’s Mario.
Then there are those who have gone so far to question Pratt’s seeming enthusiasm for the role…
However, perhaps the most telling aspect is how some fans have zeroed in on hating the few utterances we heard from Pratt’s Mario in the trailer, such as when it ends with Mario saying “wahoo!” with a rather muted inflection.
Others have gone so far as to seek out foreign language versions of the trailer to compare Pratt unfavorably to other voice actors doing the same exact part.
Super Mario Bros. Memes
Of course it wouldn’t be the internet without some memes making the same points in a snarkier, more visual fashion. You can enjoy some of which below…
With all this being said, Twitter—and for that matter Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and the rest of the social media ecosystem—does not represent the taste of most moviegoing audiences or even necessarily a significant fraction. It does, however, raise an interesting question as to why Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment felt the need to cast such a widely well-known movie star as Mario if the actor sounds like nothing what fans have come to expect from the character. Presumably, we’ll find the answer when we see the full movie for ourselves once The Super Mario Bros. Movie opens only in theaters on April 7, 2023.