Few announcements sent as many shockwaves through the annals of the world wide web as that of perennial quippy guy who would go “Well, that happened!” Chris Pratt being cast as lovable, pure Mario in the upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie from Illumination. People were genuinely put off by it in both ironic and unironic fashion, leading to Variety recently asking the movie’s producer at Illumination, Chris Meledandri, about the decision: especially about people calling out the casting choice because… Pratt isn’t Italian. And Meledandri defended the decision.
“Chris was cast because we felt he could give a great performance as Mario. And now that we’ve done about 15 recording sessions, and the movie is three-quarters done, I sit here and say that I love his performance as Mario,” said Meledandri. And he says that casting Pratt as Mario is cool cuz Meledandri is Italian-American so he can declare what is or is not offensive to that demographic, I guess?
Now, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say upwards of 90% of people calling out Pratt’s lack of Italianness are doing so at least a little facetiously. They’re probably more upset with the mismatch in energy between him and Mario, his known affiliation with a controversial church, and maybe even just Hollywood’s predilection to hire huge names for roles only because they’re huge names. As an Italian-American myself, it’s kinda funny that they’re taking the jokes at face value — but c’mon, they really should’ve cast Charles Martinet or Danny Devito. Not just for the Italian factor, but because they rule.
Also, this wasn’t even the first time Meledandri defended casting Pratt. And yet, we still haven’t heard even a sample of his voice. The longer we go without it, the more skeptical I am. But we’ll just have to see when the Mario movie releases on April 7th, 2023.
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