Films have always been subject to criticism — both good and bad. With how fast information is spread and shared through the internet today, leaks and previews of films are easily accessible, which is then subject to judgment on social media. Whether it be the rumors of an emoji or Tetris movie being in development, or details in movie posters such as the original version of Sonic’s movie design being displayed as a silhouette, people are now quick to criticize media when production isn’t even complete.
Despite the success “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” achieved following its release, it was subject to harsh criticism for years, even when it was limited to just word of mouth. When the voice actors for the film were revealed back in 2021, almost every YouTuber who reacted to the reveal burst into laughter, followed by denial, then dread at the possible failure of the film. Mario fans were especially harsh towards the casting of Mario as Chris Pratt and not by the original voice actor of Mario, Charles Martinet, who was left to a cameo.
Personally, I was skeptical about the voice actor reveal. I first heard it through memes and people talking about it online, as I couldn’t have imagined Chris Pratt being the voice of Mario. At the time, the only voice that I was happy with was Seth Rogen playing as Donkey Kong. Most of my skepticism was put to rest, however, when animators took action and used audio from the voice actors’ previous work and animated them as the respective characters that they would play as. My favorite videos from YouTube were Tytofi’s “Jack Bowser and Seth DK,” which took clips from Kung Fu Panda and turned Po into Bowser, and Sangled’s “How Luigi and Daisy Started Dating,” which took clips from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and turned Charlie Kelly into Luigi. By doing this, it allowed fans to get a better idea of what to expect from the actors and the film itself.
However, other fans continued to doubt the casting decisions for the film. Chris Pratt was especially the hardest to impress with, as he was restricted from showcasing to his fans what he would sound like. Fans also couldn’t help but acknowledge that the only other animated film Chris Pratt did before “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” was “The Lego Movie.”
And then the first trailer for the film was released in 2022. Finally being able to see the characters in action in an animated film was so surreal to me. I got to see my favorite Mario character, Bowser, stomp around and breathe fire. I got to see Mario hop around and talk to a toad, even if it was only for a little bit. Even though fans were amazed at Jack Black’s role as Bowser in the trailer, they were still skeptical of Chris Pratt despite the trailer only showcasing two of his lines. With the limited amount of lines shown, it wasn’t fair to make a conclusion on what Chris Pratt’s voice was going to be like. Some people thought he would do an Italian or a Brooklyn accent. Some others thought he would just use his normal voice. Although I had my own theories on what Chris Pratt’s voice would be like, I didn’t want to make any conclusions based on only two lines and a few gasps and screams.
Then finally, the film was released in April of this year. Audience ratings were high and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” currently holds the record for most money made at the box office for an animated film at launch. The only criticisms most people had were more concerned with the plot than the voice acting or casting. Every group chat I was in was talking about “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” When a group of friends of mine were planning on going to the movies together to watch the film, I gave in and decided to go with them. And I do not regret a thing. The voice talents of each of the cast members were great. Jack Black got to sing and play the piano as Bowser and clearly had a blast with the role. Keegan-Michael Key got to go high and low in pitch as Toad. And, the most surprising and impressive thing of all — Chris Pratt got to showcase an impression of Charles Martinet’s Mario at the start of the film. Although this wasn’t something that would continue throughout, just hearing the voice made me and my friends’ faces light up. Despite my few gripes with the film’s plot and the portrayal of some of the characters, I enjoyed the film overall and the voice actors who brought the characters to life.
After we exited the theater and started talking about the film and the journey the film had in its production, we all came to a conclusion that made these last few years look silly — giving Mario a cartoony Italian accent, despite fans’ constant requests for it, would have been such an annoying voice to listen to, especially for a film that lasts almost two hours. As the main character of the film, it wouldn’t have made sense to give him the voice. It was great just being able to hear both Chris Pratt’s impression and Charles Martinet’s Mario voice as a cameo.
Even though “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” had a rough road of judgment and assumptions about its quality before its release, it has clearly shown to surprise most audiences around the world. Despite this, people continue to give the same kind of treatment to other films that have only just been announced. Although there are a lot of reasons to criticize Disney’s recent choices in their live-action remakes for example, it’s not fair to criticize the live action design of Stitch and consider the live action “Lilo & Stitch” film a failure when the only information we currently have on the film is some of the cast. Fans of the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” franchise are already predicting the quality of the film adaptation even though the release date has only just been announced. The only information we have regarding films such as “Shrek 5” and the live action “Moana” are their titles, yet people are already theorizing how well or poorly these films will do even though there is still the likelihood of these films never even reaching completion. Instead of judging a film that doesn’t even exist yet, I believe that we need to slow down and patiently wait until we finally see all the elements of a film — the visuals, the sound, the music, the voice acting — in action before criticizing it. We live in a world where Chris Pratt being the voice of Mario somehow works after all!