While Lightyear may be the animated picture getting all the buzz lately with its confusing logline and disappointing box office numbers, another agent of chaos lurks in the release calendar’s distant future with Super Mario Bros. The adaptation of the Nintendo classic has a very famous crew of voice actors slated to bring animated life to the video game world that’s sold millions upon millions of cartridges and digital downloads.
The casting decision to let Chris Pratt voice Mario, however, was probably the wildest of them all. Consider, for a moment, that Mario already has a voice. And the Italian plumber, well, sounds like a very distinctive Italian plumber. It’s not like we’ve heard him recite lines from The Tempest or anything, but the phrases we know are sure to come up in the animated film and none of them sound like the dude from Onward.
Which is why the Mario movie’s director has already defended the Pratt casting decision and, months later, another person involved with the film is defending the decision to put a non-Italian in the role of Luigi’s also-Italian sibling. Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri, whose company is bringing Super Mario Bros. to the big screen, was asked about the Pratt casting in Barcelona this week and mostly wants everyone to relax.
“When people hear Chris Pratt’s performance, the criticism will evaporate, maybe not entirely — people love to voice opinions, as they should.” He added, “I’m not sure this is the smartest defense, but as a person who has Italian-American heritage, I feel I can make that decision without worrying about offending Italians or Italian-Americans. … I think we’re going to be just fine.”
It’s a strong defense of a voice-acting performance not publicly revealed as of yet, and maybe it will assuage some fears that it will be an outright disaster. Perhaps we should wait and hear how Pratt… does the Mario voice before we land on any conclusions here, but we can now count at least one prominent Italian involved in the movie’s creation who doesn’t sound worried about plumber erasure.