Nintendo (YouTube)

With that in mind, it’s probably safe to say the pushback to Pratt’s casting largely isn’t about Italian or Italian-American representation, at least outside the irony-poisoned halls of Twitter. No, it’s more a matter of, as I said before, Pratt just plain sucking.


Even if you ignore Pratt attending a homophobic church, folks are sick of seeing his chiseled, shark-eyed face everywhere. He’s the latest in a long line of middling actors to secure blockbuster after blockbuster simply by virtue of being unassuming. In Pratt, Hollywood has found the perfect bland protagonist to plug into cookie cutter adventure flicks every summer, from hypnotizing velociraptors in Jurassic World to whatever the hell The Tomorrow War is all about.

There’s also the fact that animated movies in recent years have become all about being able to list a star-studded cast during trailers rather than hiring actual, talented voice actors. Far be it from me to criticize Charlie Day for accepting a role as Luigi, but we distinguish between “actors” and “voice actors” for a reason. Both artforms require far different skills that don’t necessarily translate to the other. Martinet’s career as an accomplished voice actor should have made him a shoo-in for the Mario movie, not just as a winking, Stan Lee-style cameo but as the plumber himself.


It’s a nice thing that Meledandri took jokes about Italian representation at face value, but it’s obvious he’s sidestepping the crux of the issue. I’d much rather he just came out and told the truth: They hired Pratt because they wanted to attach a big-name actor to the role no matter how large the dissonance between Mario’s portrayal in the games and the movie. And while I’m probably asking too much from a guy who had a hand in unleashing the Minions on the world, that’s between Meledandri and his god at this point.