Seth Rogen Is Under Fire For His Voice Acting As Donkey Kong

Seth Rogen's refusal to adjust his voice for Donkey Kong in The Super Mario Bros movie is angering fans.

By Sean Thiessen | Updated

seth rogen

The Super Mario Bros. Movie has finally arrived. Fans and critics are sharply divided on the Chris Pratt-led adaptation of the hit video game series, but one opinion overtaking the internet is that Seth Rogen phoned in his performance as Donkey Kong. According to Kotaku, Rogen said up front that his version of Donkey Kong would have to sound like him.

“I was very clear that I don’t do voices,” Rogen explained with his trademark joviality and signature laugh. “If you want me to be in this movie, then it’s going to sound like me and that’s it. That was the beginning and end of that conversation.” Seth Rogen laid out what was to be expected from his performance as Donkey Kong, acknowledging his inflexibility when voice acting.

“But it did seem to work,” he continued. “I think in the film and in the game, all you seem to know about Donkey Kong is that he throws barrels and does not like Mario very much. And that’s what I ran with.” The barrel-smashing ape has never had a particularly iconic voice the way Mario does. Chris Pratt has angered fans by using his regular voice to play Mario, but Seth Rogen had freedom to make Donkey Kong his own without treading on a definitive interpretation from the source material.

It is unclear as to why Seth Rogen was unwilling to experiment with voices for Donkey Kong. It could be that he is not confident in doing various voices, or perhaps he recognizes the value of his own unique voice. Without asking Rogen, one can only speculate.

In a sense, there is no wrong way to voice Donkey Kong. What has irked fans most about Seth Rogen has been his apparent lack of effort and enthusiasm in his role. Even at the red carpet premiere, the cast of the movie wore outfits that alluded to their characters, while Seth Rogen wore a t-shirt and blazer combo that bore no nod to Donkey Kong.

When compared to the passionate performance of Jack Black as Bowser, it is hard for anyone to measure up. But on the whole, the all-star cast of The Super Mario Bros. Movie has been well-received. Chris Pratt being cast as Mario took a lot of heat initially, but now fans have turned their criticism to Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong.

Despite some arguably uninspired voice acting and casting, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is getting a gold star from fans; the film opened to a 96 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Its high marks from moviegoers are in sharp contrast to the critics’ consensus, which amounts to a measly 54 percent Tomatometer average.

Mario and the gang will take on the wisecracking party of the recently released Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves at the box office this weekend, along with Ben Affleck’s new sports drama, Air. The films will have to outshoot John Wick: Chapter 4 and its fellow holdouts, Scream VI and Shazam! Fury of the Gods to win the weekend.

Seth Rogen, in addition to his turn as Donkey Kong, will make another contribution to animation this year with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, which he is producing. He will also appear in the Apple TV+ original comedy series Platonic and Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money, the story of the Wall Street madness incited by the Reddit-fueled increase in GameStop stock prices.

Fans may take issue with Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, but that is not expected to slow crowds down. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is projected to be one of the biggest titles of the year, and as box office numbers trickle in over the weekend, Nintendo and Illumination Entertainment will find out just how super their Mario Bros. movie really is.