The Super Mario Bros. Movie is out in theaters now, and for those of you who didn’t care for what you heard of Chris Pratt’s Mario voice in the trailers, well, it is pretty much like that throughout most of the movie. However, there is one scene at the beginning that serves as a bit of a meta moment about this, acknowledging Pratt’s performance and the lack of Mario’s distinct, exaggerated Italian accent.
Spoilers for The Super Mario Bros. Movie follow.
The movie opens with the scene of Bowser defeating the kingdom of Penguins that’s been featured heavily in the movie’s trailers. Following this, the movie cuts to Brooklyn, New York, where Mario and Luigi are starting their new, family-owned plumbing business called—you guessed it—Super Mario Bros. The movie then shows the duo’s commercial that premiered as the movie’s Super Bowl ad, but with the two giving a sales pitch at the end where both brothers lean hard into the Italian accents we typically associate with the characters.
The scene then pans out to Mario and Luigi watching the commercial at a pizzeria, and they both sound like, well, Chris Pratt and Charlie Day. They’ve apparently sunk all of their money into this new ad, so there’s a lot riding on it, and Mario wonders aloud if the accents are too much. It’s here that the brothers are tapped by a patron playing a Donkey Kong arcade machine (though it’s rebranded as Jump Man, the original name for Mario in his 1981 debut game) named Giuseppe, who says, “Too much? It’s-a perfect, wahoo!”
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If that voice sounded at all familiar to you, it’s because Giuseppe here is played by Charles Martinet, the voice actor behind Mario and Luigi in the video games. There’s been a lot of dissent around The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s casting, as it seemed to prioritize getting big-name Hollywood actors over seasoned voice talent, to middling results. So Martinet getting both this very minor role that serves as an ode to Mario’s voice as we’ve known it for nearly the past 30 years, and also a more substantial part as Mario and Luigi’s father, feels like a respectful nod to the man who’s been voicing these characters for decades.
All that being said, it’s funny that after all the hubbub about Pratt’s lack of an Italian accent the movie more or less writes it out as a performance in and of itself. Having just watched the film, I don’t know that Pratt’s performance is any better or worse than most of the cast’s, with the exception of Jack Black as Bowser, who is easily the best part of the movie, and Keegan-Michael Key as Toad. Both clearly put in the work rather than just phoning it in. Meanwhile, Seth Rogen has even gone on record as saying he doesn’t really do voices, so his performance as Donkey Kong was pretty much just him sounding like he does in any other movie.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is in theaters now, and the response to it has been pretty mixed. The people whose opinion really matters in this situation, though, are real Italians. Which is why we asked a bunch of them how they feel about the guy and his accent.