There’s a long-standing complaint, among fans of voice actors (and the performers themselves), about the way Hollywood tends to cast its big-budget animated films. Call it the “Zendaya is Meechee” problem, maybe: The tendency to fill these cartoon roles with the biggest names that producers can successfully get their hands on, with no real consideration for how much craft they’ve put into, say, refining a whole host of character voices across wide portions of their career.
All of which leads us to the bewildering and disorienting news that Chris Pratt is now the voice of Mario. Yes, that Mario: The pipe-adjacent Italian stereotype with the nipples. Nintendo broke the news during its regular Nintendo Direct infodump today, revealing the cast for Illumination’s already-cursed Super Mario Bros. movie, and ratcheting up that sense of doom considerably in the process. And don’t worry: They brought out Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto to assure fans that Mario will talk “a lot” in this one, so you’ll definitely be getting plenty of classic Pratt-voiced Mushroom Kingdom lines like “Can you get a load of this dinosaur jerk?” or “I did magic mushrooms in Central Park before, but these jerks are ridiculous!”
In fact, the cast of the Mario movie appears to have been assembled entirely out of popular actors who presumably need to get a new swimming pool paid off: Pratt will be joined by Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, and Jack Black as Koopa King Bowser. (Black, at least, gets a pass from us; between Brutal Legend and Psychonauts 2, he’s put in his time in the video game voice acting mines.) Is Seth Rogen playing Donkey Kong, we hear you ask? Fuck yeah, Seth Rogen is playing Donkey Kong, presumably teaming up with Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, who is a Donkey Kong who is old. Keegan-Michael Key is Toad! Words don’t mean things anymore!
Perhaps sensing the sheer skull-throbbing annoyance this news would produce, Nintendo was quick to assure fan that voice actor Charles Martinet, whose “Ya-hoos!” and “Here we go!”s have been bringing Mario to life for 25 years at this point, will be involved in the movie, voicing a variety of cameos. All of this, of course, will be placed in the hands of Illumination, the house that the Minions built, ensuring that the film—set for December 21, 2022—will be exactly as irritating as anyone could have hoped. Or as our old friend Mario might put it: “Can you get a load of these jerks?