Just about everyone on planet Earth knows what Mario’s voice sounds like. The only exception? Chris Pratt. The first trailer for The Super Mario Bros: Movie has dropped, and it seems like the star of this upcoming shindig took all of his vocal cues not from a certain red-clad plumber, but from Linda Belcher of Bob’s Burgers. Bold move, sir.
Most of this first trailer revolves around a battle between Bowser (played by Jack Black) and the king of the penguins (played by Khary Payton) because what even is this movie? But after Bowser completely annihilates the fan-favorite characters that first appeared in Super Mario 64, the camera cuts to the only hero who can save the Mushroom Kingdom: Mario. From Chris Pratt-as-Mario’s first grunt, it’s chaos. By now, we’ve come to expect a series of joyful “wahs” and “ya-hoos” from Mario. Instead Pratt leans into reality, actually grunting as if Pratt himself, a human who would experience real pain if he repeatedly banged his head into a floating box, has been flung into a bunch of oversized mushrooms. But it only gets worse when he opens his mouth.
“Mushroom Kingdom here we come!” Pratt’s Mario says. There is no Italian accent. There are no “Mama mias.” There is only a half-hearted impression of Linda Belcher as if Chris Pratt had just binge-watched a ton of Bob’s Burgers and was doing a voice to entertain himself while doing dishes.
I mean, just listen to the two side-by-side. Here’s Pratt as Mario:
And here’s Linda (John Roberts) just generally living her best life:
Do you think Twitter didn’t notice? You fool. Of course it noticed, and the response was savage:
to everyone saying chris pratt’s mario sounds like linda belcher, how DARE you disrespect linda like that
— 🐌 on 🪐 (@snailonsaturn) October 7, 2022
Twitter user @snailonsaturn makes an excellent point. John Roberts’ portrayal of Linda Belcher has life. It gives energy, humor, joy, fun, passion. It is the perfect voice to capture the slightly crazy yet well-meaning mother in all of our lives. It is voice acting art. Whatever Pratt is doing is a lazy, pseudo-Brooklyn accent that belongs behind closed doors and not in a theater near you.
But the discourse around this new trailer has raised another interesting point: John Roberts should play Mario. Why not? If Universal insists on giving its canonically Italian plumber a vaguely northeastern accent (again, why? This has already failed), go all in. Give the role to the voice actor who can nail the vibes of this accent while making it fun and quotable without ever feeling grating. Give us the John Roberts cut of The Super Mario Bros: Movie. If we can bully a movie studio into editing realistic eyeballs and teeth off Sonic the Hedgehog, we can get Linda Belcher as Mario Mario. And if we do? As Linda would say: All riiiiiight.