Mario's iconic voice was brought back to life.
The latest trailer for Nintendo’s animated “Super Mario Bros.” movie, featuring Chris Pratt as the voice of everyone’s favorite goomba-stomping Italian plumber, dropped on Oct. 6, and let’s just say reviews were … mixed, at best.
People were generally disappointed that Pratt sounded nothing like the iconic character in the trailer, seemingly taking no inspiration from Charles Martinet, the voice actor who originated the role and created Mario’s signature accent—along with almost every character in the video game.Carlos Morillo, who claims to be a voice actor, wrote on Reddit, “I edited the Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer to see how it would sound without Chris Pratt,” and judging from the comments online, this rendition was much closer to what audiences had hoped for.
Mixing his voice with Martinet, Morillo completely replaces Pratt’s voice and reimagines the trailer. People were quite pleased.
“Wow I was giving them the benefit of the doubt, that maybe Mario's high pitched voice wouldn't work for a full movie, but it's actually way better like this. I now wish they weren't using Chris Pratt,” one person wrote in the YouTube comments.
“This one makes me feel warm and fuzzy.. It actually made me laugh,” wrote another.
One commenter also pointed out perhaps the key ingredient to why Pratt’s performance seemed to fall flat. “Famous voices should stick to voiceovers of humorous documentaries; let the voice actors do the real work. There's so much more life in a character voiced by a professional voice actor.”
Technically, no formal training is required to become a voice actor. However, it’s much more than simply speaking into a microphone—it can take years to acquire the skills required to bring a character to life in an authentic, engaging and lasting way. And that doesn’t just go for larger-than-life cartoon characters—the legendary speaking voice of James Earl Jones came as a result of voice lessons.
It’s not that celebrities don’t engage in this type of specialized training when preparing for a role, however there is often an unspoken permission to simply use their regular voice, as Pratt seemingly has for his Mario. Sometimes this takes viewers out of the story, thus making everyone lose out on the magic.
By contrast, Jack Black, whose experience as a singer clearly bleeds into his voiceover talents, has had overwhelmingly positive reviews for his portrayal of Mario's most well-known nemesis—Bowser. He doesn’t sound much like Black at all, which helps the character stand out on its own.
The call to bring back trained professionals in the craft (yes, craft) of voice acting, rather than hoping a star-studded cast will fill seats for better box office numbers, is part of a larger conversation around producing quality art versus making a cash grab. It’s a conversation that perhaps will never come to full closure, but just like this faux “Mario Bros.” trailer, hopefully we can reimagine something better.