5 Things We Want from The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

by Paul Deeter

As of today those of us somewhat hesitant and many eager younger audience members made The Super Mario Bros. trailer go viral for better or worse. This super-cast upcoming 2023 release has been rocking the videogame community's waters since its announcement in September of last year. Along with its initial announcement came its casting list which included some common voice actors like Jack Black for example playing the titular boss Bowser, and some not so common: Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach. But perhaps the most significant and important casting decision came from the choice of our lovable overall donning protagonist Mario, who will be voiced by none other than conservative A-lister Chris Pratt. Pratt who has evolved far from his comedic beginnings in Parks and Recreation, muscling up hardcore for the Guardians of the Galaxy films and consecutively receiving tons of leading-man roles including the Jurassic World reboots. He has additionally been announced as another fan-favorite character: Garfield. Yes, that Garfield. The most common joke made here is that Pratt abandoned the life of the chubby sloth-like lifestyle for the jacked-up supermodel life required for his action roles, and therefore he's as far rom a Garfield type than ever at this point. But what do people think of Pratt as one of if not the most recognizable video-game protagonist of all time? Internet personalities like the Youtuber videogamedunkey, (who also just goes by Dunkey), were literally left in tears laughing at this decision, and others were just angered. Pratt is not a particularly unique performer; some have argued that he's actually one of the worst actors currently working. Matt Pais, who reviewed Jurassic World Dominion said of Pratt: If you didn't know better, you'd think Chris Pratt had never acted before. Yikes. But the film's critical consensus is sitting at a lowly 29%, so this may not be a lone idea.

With critical unease toward Chris Pratt, gamers and younger viewers are gaining that unease due to the fact that Mario is a character so close to home. Nobody takes the Super Mario Bros. '93 film seriously, it almost tanked video-game public interest and cursed the film genre altogether. Part of the need for these movies being questioned is the fact that these characters don't have vocal history to work off of. Rick Stevenson of Screen Rant says: The biggest challenge with any Mario movie is transferring the franchise’s beloved characters – characters who barely ever speak in the games – into a format where they must inherently be more developed and verbose. He'd go on to agree that lightning could potentially strike twice here. Maybe the curse of the videogame/film mashup is still true? Let me return to this Purely Kino article: Why Aren't There Any Quality Videogame Film Adaptations? I wrote this article with the exception of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, which I still think is a solid film. But videogame movies take themselves too seriously, and this could be a problem with Mario. This is why game fans gatekeep classic characters: the risk of humiliation or desecration of sacred idols. Ok, maybe that's a bit overexaggerated, and I do admit the videogame fanbase is pretty toxic quite often. But as a frequent gamer myself, I have to take into account the possibility of Mario succeeding in the box office, with the ever popular animated Illumination company behind it. All that being said, we could potentially see another good videogame film. But just as I have my reservations, I have my hopes too. And here's what I genuinely would like to see in The Super Mario Bros. film.

1. Make Chris Pratt Funny Again

This one's for Pratt. Let me reach out and remind you of Guardians of the Galaxy. Years ago you dropped the weight and donned the suit to step into a role of badassery that remained true to your comedic chops. Why sacrifice comedy for that badassery again? Mario is going to be a funny performance, but do you still have what it takes to make people laugh? Remembering Parks and Recreation we can appreciate Pratt's performance behind and on screen. Some of the humor you brought was truly adlibbed and genuine. Sure your Christian Catholicism adjacent leanings may have caused your fanbase to grow cold to you as a humorous performer. But deep down I believe you can bring it back. I believe in you.

2. Don't Break the Rules...

If there's anything that can be immediately learned from Super Mario Bros. (1993), its that rules aren't meant to be broken. Some things are sacred. So when it comes down to little details like the names of our protagonists, don't muck it up. Mario and Luigi's last name isn't Mario! There's no Mario Mario in the Nintendoverse. Not even worth making that joke for a laugh. Was it supposed to be funny in 93? I don't know, its a headscratcher. But just as easy as it is to flub a name, so many other rules could easily be broken too. Just play by the rules and keep it semi-safe, okay?

3... But Don't Be Afraid to Have Some Fun.

I'm trying not to be a hypocrite here but what I mentioned about the faults of the original film doesn't have to completely overshadow the potential of The Super Mario Bros. I mean its been decades, and the wounds have (almost) healed. I think Sonic is a good example of a movie that poked a few holes in the origin story of Sonic while staying true to the source. Jim Carrey slayed his role as Dr. Robotnik because he so closely fit the mannerisms and manicness of the character. But he improvved a ton of his lines, and you can tell. If Jack Black improvs his way through his performance of Bowser, that's fine, because it's Jack Black of course. We know he's got the comedic chops (and voice actor experience) needed for a performance of this magnitude. Let's keep the tone light while respecting what makes fans feel comfortable about these classic characters.

4. Know Your Audience.

And with the issue of gatekeeping comes the question of the age range of potential viewers of this film. Nintendo fans are of all ages. There are those who literally grew up from the 80s and are still buying the newest Nintendo releases for the Switch. But Nintendo is also a company franchised towards children. Do we want a bomb like The Emoji Movie that literally could not decide who it was made for? Absolutely not. Let's keep the humor family friendly and the visuals fun and flashy while also leaving the occasional easter egg for all-time fans and some jokes that will hit home with both the young and those young at heart too.

5. Don't Forget to Tell a Story.

What's the issue with videogame movies in theory also lies in the franchisable issue about most kids movies altogether. Do kids need another Minions movie, or does Illumination need another reason to sell more Minions plushies? Mario could have the heart and wholesomeness of a project like Paddington 2, but without the right intentions, it could be a complete misfire. Nintendo sells itself okay? No Nintendo branded product is going to go unnoticed by all time hardcore fans or kids. So lets focus on what makes a videogame important: a story. Without a story Mario might as well just be a bunch of (Pratt)falls and cheap gags. We don't want that. I want something with heart, substance and the humor earned that will make me smile as wide as I did when first booting up my N64.

Let's hope the creators behind The Super Mario Bros. didn't forget to stay young as they grew up.

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