The Super Mario Bros. Movie directors have come in defence of Chris Pratt’s voice role as the titular plumber. In an interview with Total Film Magazine, co-director Aaron Horvath claimed that the casting “made total sense,” given it’s an origin story featuring plumber brothers Mario and Luigi — two ‘blue-collar guys… from a family of immigrants’, who are active in Brooklyn, New York City. Pratt was cast as Mario during a Nintendo Direct event, held in 2021, which was immediately met with criticism from fans. Some of it carried over to the trailer reveal when it came to light that the actor was just playing himself while enunciating certain words in an Italian manner. The “let’s-a-go” from the second trailer is a good example of this.
“For us, it made total sense,” Horvath said in the interview. “He’s really good at playing a blue-collar hero with a ton of heart. For the way that Mario is characterised in our film, he’s perfect for it.” In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, plumber brothers Mario (Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) are known for making cheesy advertisements, and at some point, get warped into the Mushroom Kingdom. It is here that our titular Italian plumber meets with Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Toad (Keegan-Michael Key), and wages war against the villainous Bowser (Jack Black) — running through obstacles and racing through the vibrant rainbow road. A trailer from last year revealed Bowser holding Luigi captive and trying to extract information about his brother Mario.
“When you play the game, if you don’t give up, Mario will succeed,” Horvath added, elaborating on the immigrant aspect. “So we transferred that player experience from the game to a characteristic that Mario [in the movie] would have.” Since The Super Mario Bros. Movie is not a direct adaptation of any game stories, the filmmakers had to experiment with his arc differently. Illumination (animation studio) CEO Chris Meledandri addressed fan concerns over Pratt’s voice last year, saying, “Chris was cast because we felt he could give a great performance as Mario. And now that we’ve done about 15 recording sessions, and the movie is three-quarters done, I sit here and say that I love his performance as Mario.” Additionally, Pratt’s name being attached is bound to bring more attention to the Nintendo film.
That said, it isn’t just fans who are miffed about Pratt’s role in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Last year, actor John Leguizamo (John Wick: Chapter 2) expressed his disappointment with the film, claiming that it went ‘backwards’ by having two white actors voice the Italian characters. Leguizamo played Luigi in the 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. Movie.
Meanwhile, Charles Martinet, who voiced Mario in the original video games will play various supporting characters in the upcoming film. Last week, Nintendo announced a new Direct event to showcase the final trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The presentation will be live on its official YouTube channels on March 10 at 3:30am IST/ March 9 at 2pm PT in the US.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie release date was brought forward by two days recently, and will now drop April 5 in theatres worldwide.
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