Making Sense of Illumination’s Mario Movie

So…there’s a Super Mario Movie coming from Illumination…Um, what?

It’s been decades since we got the last Super Mario Bros movie, starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. That film caused Nintendo to swear off any further film adaptations of their properties (though, let’s be fair, the film was way better than that weird live-action/cartoon hybrid television show). Now, in the year 2022, Nintendo has softened on their stance, and they’ll be working alongside Illumination and Universal to bring Mario to theaters once again.

It’s a weird kind of Cinderella story, or perhaps we should refer to it as a Princess Peach story. But wait, it gets weirder.

I remember hearing about this movie a few years back during Collider Movie Talk, or perhaps it was even AMC Movie Talk, but now it’s been officially announced as of September’s Nintendo Direct, a news outlet offered every month or so directly from the video game giant. With that, Nintendo even announced some of the cast, and more bits of casting have eeked out in the weeks since. Let’s take a look at this list:

  • Chris Pratt as Mario
  • Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach
  • Charlie Day as Luigi
  • Jack Black as Bowser
  • Keegan-Michael Key as Toad
  • Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong
  • Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong
  • Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek
  • Sebastian Maniscalco as Spike
  • Charles Martinet will reportedly make a cameo in the film as well.

Pratt’s involvement seems to be the one raising the most eyebrows, and I can’t say I disagree with those who are confused. Pratt doesn’t necessarily sound like the Italian plummer-turned-superhero. He also hasn’t shown his voice acting chops to take on Mario Mario (is his full name canon anymore?). You might be laughing about this, and I get it, it’s not like Mario is a complex character, but he still seems like an odd choice (he’s also voicing Garfield the cat, but let’s just deal with this first).

There are other interesting bits in that casting like Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, but there’s also some inspired choices as well, like Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach. I can certainly see her breathy cadence lending itself to Peach pretty well. Mario’s brother Luigi is also a bit of a fool, so maybe the over-the-top talents of Charlie Day might just work. Same with the utterly brilliant against-type casting of Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, which I can already see in my mind.

I’ve been working my brain on this conundrum of peculiar information for weeks now, and I finally think I cracked it: I believe this Super Mario movie will be more satirical than we originally expected. With the casting of Pratt, Day, and Jack Black as Bowser, I think the aim is to make something akin to The Lego Movie. That seems to line up with Matthew Fogel (The Lego Movie 2) screenwriting and Aaron Horvath & Michael Jelenic (Teen Titans Go! To the Movies) directing.

In other news, Seth Rogen’s Donkey Kong will also appear in a spin-off of his own, but for now, we’ll have to wait until December 22, 2022 to see how this plays out.

What do you think of this new Super Mario movie? Does all this info bode well for the upcoming animated feature or does this film need a few extra lives to succeed? Let me know/Drop a comment down below!

-Kyle A. Goethe

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