Chris Pratt may be great as the MCU’s Star-Lord, but the decision to cast him as Mario in the upcoming Super Mario movie was a bizarre one, and it just got a little more weird.
That’s because in a chat with Variety (opens in new tab), Pratt said his voice performance as Mario will be “unlike anything you’ve heard.” What that means exactly isn’t clear.
In Nintendo game form, Mario said very little, only giving us a handful of phrases and sentences across a wealth of games spanning decades. We can recall “select your playa” from Mario Kart 64, alongside the many whoo-hoos and the classic “It’s a me, Mario,” spouted by the mustachioed plumber in a faux Italian accent cooked up by voice actor Charles Martinet.
But it doesn’t look like Pratt will do his take on that accent. That’s probably for the best, given it could get uncomfortably close to rubbing up against negative stereotypes of Italian accents.
“I worked really closely with the directors and trying out a few things and landed on something that I’m really proud of and can’t wait for people to see and hear,” explained Pratt. “It’s an animated voiceover narrative. It’s not a live-action movie. I’m not gonna be wearing a plumber suit running all over. I’m providing a voice for an animated character, and it is updated and unlike anything you’ve heard in the Mario world before.”
But as we’ve not heard a hint of what voice Pratt could give Mario, the speculation floodgates are well and truly open.
Perhaps, Mario could have more of an Italian-American accent, such as that in The Sopranos: “Ohh Luigi, where’s the gabagool for the Party?” Or maybe more of a comedic Southern U.S. twang: “Y’all seen that Bowser, he gawn got Princes Peach.” Maybe the much-ignored South Wales accent could be in Pratt’s sights: “Oh Mario, what’s occurin’ down them pipes butt?” Or what if Pratt gives Mario a mock-Cockney accent: “Watch awt, Towad! That Goombah is thowin’ Derry and Toms.”
Whichever way Pratt decided to translate the Mario voice, we just hope he avoids the pseudo-Brooklyn accent of Bob Hoskins’ take on Mario in 1993’s Super Mario Bros; that movie was so bizarre it felt like a fever dream.
The overall reaction to Pratt taking on the role of Mario was somewhat mired in controversy and confusion. Pratt is a Minnesota native rather than a man of Italian descent, so didn’t seem like the obvious choice to play an Italian plumber. And given the roles Pratt has had in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, it requires a bit of a mental leap to see him transition into playing Mario, even though he’s just voice acting.
Frankly, the whole idea of attempting to give Mario a new accent seems like a bad idea to us. And there’s the whole question as to whether a Mario movie makes sense anyway. Big-screen adaptations of video games rarely turn out well, with the latest high-profile example being the Uncharted movie, which didn’t exactly win critical acclaim. In many ways, we’d rather just get a new Mario game, say a follow-up to Mario Odyssey, than a Mario movie.
With the Mario movie slated for a 2023 release we’ll just have to wait and see how the classic video game character is once again brought to the silver screen, and what direction Pratt will go with the Mario voice.