We Need to Talk About the Mario Movie Trailer

On October 6th, 2022, we got our first proper look at the new Super Mario animated movie. And to my surprise, it… actually looks pretty good! So we need to talk about that.

When the film was first announced, several red flags flew up immediately. For one, it was written and animated by Illumination, the studio behind such films as:

  • Despicable Me 1-3
  • Minions + Minions: The Rise of Gru
  • The Secret Life of Pets 1-2
  • Sing 1-2

These movies are often successful with small children. But for… just about any other audience, they’re just obnoxious, mediocre animated movies with immature senses of humor. Not a good sign for the beloved video game character.

The second red flag was the casting. Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario and Luigi, has been relegated to cameo roles. In his stead, we got a who’s-who of Hollywood actors. The most controversial of them all being Chris Pratt as Mario himself; that, or Seth Rogan as Donkey Kong.

So, when it was announced that we’d be getting a trailer, everyone braced themselves for a treat. Some were genuinely excited, others (me) just wanted something to laugh at, and some had no expectations at all and went in with an open mind. The trailer dropped…

…and it was actually pretty good. Even if it still gave cause for concern.

The animation was the first stand-out feature of the trailer. Illumination films are known for having… how shall I say it… cost efficient animation. Imagine our surprise, then, when we saw how beautifully rendered and vibrant the film’s version of the Mushroom Kingdom appears to be. Not to mention how good the character designs are for every single character, from background Koopas to the iconic cast of the games.

Speaking of whom: they (mostly) nailed the performances. Jack Black is a delight as Bowser; he adds a layer of menace to the character while still capturing the goofy charm from the games (it’s almost like he’s a voice actor or something). Keegan Michael-Key is also notable as Toad; from the few lines he’s spoken, he seems to have found a nice balance between the character’s usual grating tones and something that would actually be tolerable to listen to throughout a feature length film. We even got a small sneak peak of Charlie Day as Luigi; alas, it didn’t give us much to go off of, but it does seem promising.

Unfortunately, the same praises cannot be sung for the star of the show: Chris Pratt as Mario.

His Mario voice is basically just his normal voice. There’s a slight hint of a Boston-style Italian accent near the end, but it’s so faint that it’s barely noticeable. Already, this is being used as proof in favor of animated films hiring normal voice actors rather than face actors; when Pratt speaks, I see him, not Mario.

What’s really interesting is that there is a version of this trailer where Mario sounds like… well, Mario. The French version. I’ve been unable to find the voice actor’s name, but his performance much better reflects Martinet’s bouncy and cheerful tone used in the games. So much so that a large contingent of the film’s potential audience have decided to watch the French dub.

I still remember when people got mad about having to read subtitles to watch Parasite. How times change…

Overall, this trailer actually gave me some hope for the film. Granted, that hope has dozens of asterisks attached to it. We still don’t know much about the actual story, Pratt’s performance in the lead already leaves much to be desired, and we still haven’t seen anything of the rest of the cast, like Peach or Donkey Kong.

Still, I’m excited to watch this movie. I’m either going to laugh with it or at it. Maybe a bit of both. Either way, it looks to be a decent time.

Five bucks say they’ll slip a Minion in there somewhere. Ten if Nintendo doesn’t approve.

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2 responses to “We Need to Talk About the Mario Movie Trailer”

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