They are out of place, out of time, or out of a method acting class... They're the foreign accents that infiltrate our favorite films where these accents should not go. And whether it's because it's a riveting actor or a film too fun to care, they become a part of the film's tone so much we may not even question.
These are my nominees for those films...
- Sean Connery in the Hunt for Red October. He's a Russian, with a Scottish accent and a Humphrey Bogart lisp. But shhomehow ash Captain Ramiashh, Sean Connery ish shtill shenshayshional.
- John Malkovich in, well, every European period movie he's ever done using an American accent-- but particularly Mary Reilly. I've heard the man do accents. But every now and then, he just gets in a film and it's like he figures, "What this character needs is a little more... Malkovich." And suddenly we're in Victorian England and he's speaking with his very own American twang. But of course, he's right. Lots of mediocre films benefit from Malkovichization.
- Drew Barrymore in Ever After. Our likable little Cinderella is French. Our surly Prince Charming is French. They're all French people living in France. Medieval France. With le poisson and le mouton and, um, la baguette. And virtually each and every one of them have a British accent. The French would SO not be heureuse about it.
- The Entire Cast of The Count of Monte Cristo. Like the folks in Ever After, Guy Pearce's Mondego wouldn't know a croissant from a crumpet. And as the Count, James Caviezel finds his inner Jonathan-Pryce-in-creepy-English-bloke mode-- if he were a Frenchman. Still, the film is almost as enjoyable as the sandwich, and a lot less fattening.
- Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Speaking of English accents-- yeah, Van Dyke's Cockney chimney sweep accent accidentally channels a bit of of Disney's Goofy, but it's legendary among movie-goers. And still a jolly 'olliday.
- Marge Gunderson in Fargo. Fargoians... Fargoites... Fargoists... er... North Dakotans say that the accents used in the Coens' film are not at all accurate to their region. But anyone who loves the Coens knows, most of us also don't talk in snappy film noir dialogue and repeat key phrases for humor and literary emphasis. Oh yaaah, you betchaaaa!
- Christopher Lambert in Highlander. He's an American-born Switzerland-educated expat playing a Scotsman, and the effect is an immortal Highland warrior who sounds oddly like Peter Lorre. Then there's Sean Connery, an actual Scotsman, playing a Spaniard with a Scottish accent and a Humphrey Bogart lisp. (Where have we heard that before?) The mind boggles. But hey-- there's the Queen soundtrack and Clancy Brown being evil with safety pins in his neck. So, still campily cool.
- Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. Okay, so he's speaking English, yes, but half of what he's saying is so mumbled, it qualifies for a foreign language. That's how we know his character is really scientific.
So tell me, what Accents Incongruous have you forgiven in your favorite films?