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Chris Pratt tells Jimmy Fallon how his ‘I’m okay, I’m alive’ sigh lets kids know Mario's not dead
"Without that, kids would be like, ‘Mario is dead! Mario fell to his death, Dad!,'" Pratt explains.
If Mario has a bad fall through a bottomless pit or gets struck by an enemy in the Nintendo games, he either loses a life, shrinks down, or if he's out of lives, the player starts from the beginning. On the big screen, it can be a bit more jarring if the title character in the The Super Mario Bros. Movie was just gone for good. So, Chris Pratt — who voices the plumber in the Universal Pictures film out Wednesday — had to improvise a bit.
During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Pratt told the NBC late night host that he had to do a series of sound effects to convey the concept of Mario being hurt, but not dying, so that little kids seeing the film would understand. "There’s a lot of action in this movie and I could just kind of hear you — a lot of grunting by you," Fallon said.
"Here’s an interesting thing about that, actually," Pratt explained. "Usually, the effort sounds, you do at the end of the session. You probably do like one or two sessions a month, over the course of a couple of years to voice one of these movies. And at the end, because the efforts and the grunts and the screaming ... really takes it out of your voice, they save that for the end.
"What makes physical comedy work in like a Tom and Jerry or a Super Mario Bros., is when a character falls a long way and hits, they don’t die," Pratt continues. "If like the anvil hit [the Road Runner's] head and there’s frickin' brains everywhere ... that’d be bad, right? So, in order to let kids know that the character’s not dead, you have to do an, ‘I’m okay, I’m alive’ sigh. ‘I’m not hurt, I’m not injured’ sigh. Without that, kids would be like, ‘Mario is dead! Mario fell to his death, Dad!’
Watch Chris Pratt do his 'I'm alive' sigh on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:
Thankfully, it sounds like we won't see Mario die in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which also sees Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, and Fred Armisen doing key character voice work.
"You get that call and it’s just really exciting," Pratt says of being cast in the animated flick, "because, if you think about it, all the IP that’s out there, anything that has reach, it’s already been remade. It’s already been turned into a TV show or a movie. And for some reason, the Super Mario Bros. hasn’t been a movie for almost 30 years. And it’s because I think the folks at Nintendo just didn’t want to give anybody the permission to make the movie."
"And so finally, Illumination — who made Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets, Minions, incredible studio — and so they partnered up and they decided that they were going to make this movie. So, when something like that comes around, you’re just so blessed, so honored to do it."
The Super Mario Bros. Movie hits theaters and IMAX starting this Wednesday, April 5. You can buy tickets here. New episodes of The Tonight Show air weekdays at 11:35/10:35c on NBC and stream next day on Peacock.