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Jack Black was the only one who knew how to sell The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Jack Black brought unique star power to the Super Mario Bros. press tour. Jacks just wanna have fun. We do too.

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Jack Black
Jack Black

Jack Black deserves a lot of credit. Not just for consistently delivering unashamed and joyous comedic performances for about 30 years but for understanding how to sell them. Simply put, there’s no better celebrity pitchman for your movie than Jack Black. His full-throated endorsement of fun, silliness, and play (an especially important component for a video game movie) was the first inkling that maybe this movie would be even a little fun.

Black gets how to pitch this thing to adults while maintaining a gloriously immature desire to not be taken seriously. Take the cast’s visit to The Kelly Clarkson Show, for example, when Black actually showed up in costume, ready to embarrass himself for the sake of his movie. And embarrass himself he did, arriving in an ill-fitting Bowser costume—probably the “Plumber-hating Dinosaur” from Spirit Halloween—to dance around the studio as editors raced to blur his genitals, clearly visible through the cheap fabric around the crotch.

‘Super Mario Bros.’ Cast Pranks Jack Black Into Wearing Bowser Costume On Kelly Clarkson Show

Unfortunately, the rest of the press cycle wasn’t so entertaining. Despite the massive opening weekend tracking, the Super Mario Bros. Movie rollout hasn’t been very fun. In interview after interview, the narrative around the movie was “no, seriously, you’re going to love Chris Pratt’s Mario voice,” which, fine, whatever. The fact that the movie was already doing damage control before the movie was out is not a great sign (We gave the movie a B for those keeping score at home). The fact that audiences really didn’t get to hear the voice in advance leads us to believe that the studio used “what’s he going to sound like” to the film’s benefit. Whether the voice was good or not became The Thing instead of simply having a Mario mascot going around saying, “It’s a-me, Mario! Come and see my movie.”


But, thanks to Black, all was not lost. He understood that, fundamentally, this is a cartoon adaptation of a video game. Heck, even Jerry Seinfeld knew to do this with his one stab at animated glory, arriving at the Cannes Film Festival in a ridiculous bee costume. In a stark contrast to Seth Rogen shitting on the old Mario movie—after saying that bad reviews can make creators sad, no less—Black knows that some carnival barking never hurt anyone and that flop sweat can be funny if you’re not afraid to embarrass yourself. Black, a living meme, is uniquely suited to this role, offering himself up on the altar of Mario.

Part of what makes Jack Black the MVP of Mario is he clearly enjoys and plays video games. In one of the few videos from this press cycle of the cast playing video games, YouTuber jacksepticeye invited Black and co-stars Charlie Day and Keegan Michael Key actually played Super Mario Kart. How were there not a million of these? Why are we re-assuring fans that this is a faithful adaptation of a video game—one without much of a story—when we could just watch these famous people play them?

I challenged the cast of the MARIO MOVIE in Mario Kart

Goofiness and play are Black’s M.O., and he is an established brand when it comes to video games. In addition to starring in fellow nostalgia trips with a gaming edge, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and its sequel Jumanji: The Next Level, he’s also starring in the upcoming Borderlands movie and pushing for a Red Dead Redemption film. More importantly, Jack Black understands the internet better than his co-stars. Part of that is because he was a YouTuber for a few years there. In 2018, Black launched JablinskiGames, a gaming channel in which he played video games with his kids and annoyed them with his boisterous voice and amateur playing style.


Even his dumb tie-in content does more to sell the Mario movie than the trailer. Was this really so hard, giving celebrities an augmented reality Mushroom Kingdom to run around in? Of course, Black’s just an oddly charismatic and amusing guy to see do something like this. It’s not a trained skill to make something out of nothing, the equivalent of talk show banter in action. He’s no stranger to enthusiastic and enjoyably stupid web content (see: Jack Black’s Do A Kickflip video), and the Mario movie could’ve used more of it.

Let’s a goooooo! #supermariobrosmovie 📹 @taylorstephens

Ultimately, Jack Black kept the Super Mario Bros. Movie fun as the rest of us in the media were getting swept up in the ridiculous controversies regarding the film. While ire drives clicks, it’s much more enjoyable to sit back and watch this carnival barker shepherd us into theaters. At the very least, it sufficiently convinced us that, even if the movie isn’t so hot, Black’s Bowser will probably live up to the hype.