It looks like Hollywood is still chasing the video game adaptation high after releasing the “Detective Pikachu” and the “Sonic” movies. At least, that’s my explanation for “Super Mario” getting a movie adaptation with Chris Pratt as Mario. Made by both Nintendo and Universal Pictures, it’s coming out in December 2022.
Yes, the two Italian plumber brothers are set for the silver screen. Again, I should say. The game has had a number of adaptations before, most notably the 1993 live action “Super Mario Bros.,” which made the incredible directorial choice to set it in a cyberpunk world. Cinema peaked in 1993, what can I say?
The newest adaptation is going to be animated this time, which probably puts it in a better standing compared to “Detective Pikachu” and “Sonic.” Video game physics just doesn’t really translate all that well into live action, and seeing the animated hijinks of the two brothers might be genuinely interesting. However, I kinda feel like the movie is fumbling its lead with its casting.
First of all, Pratt is playing Mario, which already feels weird. While Pratt has played bumbling yet well-meaning idiots before, I’m not sure he can pull off playing this bumbling idiot. And LBR, he doesn’t quite have as much charisma as Ryan Reynolds or my actual boyfriend in real life yes believe me Ben Schwartz.
And here’s my thing with Pratt playing Mario: Is he going to do the Italian accent? Are we going to hear him say, “It’s a me, Mario!”? I don’t know whether I’d prefer him saying Mario’s iconic line or have him not do it at all, but I do know that either choice is probably going to disappoint me.
But Pratt aside, the entire cast is also just the weirdest assemblage of celebrities. We have Anya Taylor Joy as Princess Peach, Charlie Day from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, and Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong. I can’t make heads or tails of this cast. I just want to know what the casting was like, because right now it feels like the casting directors came up with these names after a game of celebrity mad libs. Keegan-Michael Key as Toad? The little baby mushroom???
I haven’t gone into some of the issues surrounding this cast, namely diversity and star casting. It’s an extremely white cast, save for Key and Armisen, who is of Asian descent. I think I would’ve maybe given it a pass if the white actors they casted were Italian, but Day is the only one with Italian heritage.
Star casting is becoming a bigger and bigger problem these days. Roles that could’ve been taken by experienced voice actors, especially those who are BIPOC, are being taken by big name celebrities by virtue of their name alone regardless of whether or not they fit the character. Voice acting is its own separate craft, one that takes years to perfect. And as this article from The Conversation points out, one problem with star casting is that the stars can come in as themselves to lend their recognizable voice to a character they might not even fit, while the lesser known voice actors have to work harder, and this is affecting the entire industry. “[As] more celebrities are tempted to lend their voices to animated characters, non-celebrity vocal performers may come to lose their voice completely,” the article reads.
But here’s another problem about the cast that might just be a me problem. I will not root for anyone who isn’t Jack Black. I’m not sure if I could get on board with Chris Pratt saving Anya Taylor Joy away from Jack Black. If the roles were reversed, I might be a bit more receptive to this cast. But as it stands, it’s a no for me.