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  • David Zak

MARIO has a big heart and a bigger family.

If you love films like BIRDCAGE, THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARIO might bring you a lot of pleasure. You won't be surprised that Mario is gay, as he is a successful playwright leading a ragtag group of non-binary actors. You probably won't be surprised he has an angry homophobic father and kindly grandmother.

What will surprise you is how the comedy, deftly directed by Hsu Chien Hsin, plays out when Mario returns home after several years away to finally tell his family the truth about his work and life. His family's brewery is quite successful, and the family estate is spectacular. But the arrival of a consultant tasked with steering the company into a brighter future changes everything.

There is a lot of slapstick in the script by Marcela Baptista(collaborating writer), Stela Freitas (co-writer), Laura Malin (co-writer), Rafael Campos Rocha(co-writer), and Luís Salém (co-writer). Much of it lands successfully, from horrifying driving to storms that appear in a flash.

What carries the day are lovely performances by Daniel Rocha as Mario and Felipe Abib as his partner and Romulo Arantes Neto as his hunky brother. The three troupe actors all have great moments, especially when the chattiest has to pretend he has lost his voice. Letícia Lima is terrific as the coach and love interest, and Nancy People does a great job as Lana.

Don't let the cheesy musical numbers in the theater put you off, as that would keep you from an entertaining and delightfully surprising ending. I found MARIO on Amazon.

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