‘Mario Bros.’ Success Should Teach Hollywood a Lesson,
But It Won’t

The almost un-woke “Super Mario Bros. Movie” made $377 million globally in its opening weekend, showing people just want to have a good time and not endure lectures when they go to the theater.

I say almost un-woke because of course Princess Peach, who is the damsel in distress Mario must save in most iterations of the video game franchise, doesn’t need saving in the film. Like many other female protagonists in film today, she has no character flaws, weaknesses, or faults. Essentially, women in film today are boring, one-dimensional characters who can do no wrong.

The modern woman in film trope aside, the “Super Mario Bros. Movie” doesn’t give us a lecture on how we need to be accepting of someone else’s sexual deviance, doesn’t have a force-fed diverse cast for no reason other than “diversity,” and doesn’t have a gratuitous gay relationship between random characters. What a crazy concept for 2023: It’s a film about a video game and it’s just there to be entertaining and fun. Box office numbers show that people ate it up.

If you had told me 15 years ago that watching any movie after 2018 would involve having to tolerate some form of social justice lecture or blatant political messaging, I don’t think I would have quite believed you.

Why 15 years? Because in 2008, “Iron Man,” a film about a womanizing, rich, white male without faults known as Tony Stark really kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe by grossing nearly $600 million worldwide. It was a fun movie with no lecture, just a snarky good guy who beat up bad guys. Now, instead, we get Marvel films where the men are dehumanized and weak, forced to learn a social justice-themed lesson from some infallible woman before they have any chance at winning. Or we get a film like “Captain Marvel,” which is just feminist garbage.

It’s odd that a company with as many talented and intelligent people working there as must be present at Disney, who must know the origins of their mega-franchise, are so willing to take it in the opposite direction. The profitability of Marvel movies have headed that direction as well, with their most recent flop, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” having the largest dropoff of profit from opening week to the second in Marvel Studios’ history.

Illumination as a company, on the other hand, just seems to get it. Its “Despicable Me” and “Minions” franchises don’t try to teach you critical race theory or read from the fictional “1619 Project” when they produce a film. They just make fun, no-deep-thinking, beautifully animated films for families to enjoy. And their profits seem to go right along with them. “Mario Bros.” is on pace to be the first film of 2023 to hit $1 billion globally. 

Why is it so hard for other films to drop the lecturing? Is it because those in the Hollywood woke bubble constantly have to prove something to themselves without consulting the outside world? Wouldn’t you think, at some point, the numbers would teach them a lesson? 

Apparently, none of that matters to them. If you compare Rotten Tomatoes’ scores on “Super Mario Bros.” you’ll see the disconnect between the top film critics (I’m not quite sure how you become a top film critic) and the audience score: 57 percent versus 96 percent “certified fresh.” The critics panned the film for being empty and not diverse enough. Comparatively, the top critics gushed over the failed gay romantic comedy “Bros,” giving it 89 percent and “certified fresh” rating so that they could lecture us on the alphabet people’s talking points.

Similarly, each Dave Chappelle comedy special, to which audiences awarded 95 percent or higher ratings, was given 35 percent or less by the “top critics” because Chappelle mocked the leftist’s cultural talking points.

Ultimately, the film industry isn’t about profitability anymore. It’s about getting as many pats on the back from their social justice warrior friends as possible—and there’s no sign that that will change, as the industry has seen what clearly works and what doesn’t and continues down this path.

Hollywood’s lack of business acumen has created a void for more companies like The Daily Wire to fill by making films the majority of Americans would actually like to see. No matter how poor the economy may be performing, people will still spend money on entertainment—especially entertainment that doesn’t come with tired, beat-to-death leftist talking points.

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About Tim Young

Tim Young is the media and culture critic for American Greatness.

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images for Nintendo, Illumination Entertainment, and Universal Pictures

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