Friday, December 8, 2017

American accents we never hear

I just checked, and I have seen 21 Steve Coogan movies.

In the first 20, he used his normal speaking voice. But that streak has now come to an end with The Dinner.

It didn't occur to me how weird this was until I actually heard that unfamiliar noise coming out of his head.

His first words in the movie are actually voiceover, so that was a bit further disorienting ... but as he was the character on screen, I thought there was at least a decent chance that this was supposed to be his voice.

It's not only supposed to be. It is.

We don't hear it all that often, since Coogan seems to be defined by his own Britishness more than other British actors are -- if only because half the movies he's in he's either playing himself, or a thinly veiled version of himself. And in the Trip movies, he's usually impersonating other British celebrities, making his already very British humor even more British.

But yes, like his fellow countrymen, Coogan can in fact do an American accent.

At first I was very distracted by it. I thought it was a bad American accent, just because it felt so disconnected from him. The other British thespians we love, especially nowadays, have been forced to do American accents very early on in their careers, especially if they're successful. We may even associate an American speaking voice with them just as much as we associate a British speaking voice. (Or Australian, of course -- I privately think Australians do the best American accents.)

Coogan feels a bit different. It could be that he doesn't have typical movie star good looks, but he "looks British" more than, say, Michael Fassbender. (I guess this is where we should start making finer definitions of our terms -- while they are both "British" in a broader sense, Coogan is English while Fassbender is Irish, or German-Irish if you want to be even more precise.)

In the end I did come around on both his accent and his performance in this film, just as I came around on the film as a whole. That makes three straight movies I've seen this week that were real growers, starting out slowly with what appeared to be a surfeit of unnecessary character development, before really hitting their stride as the movie went along.

Will Guardians of the Galaxy 2 be the fourth tonight?

Somehow I doubt that.

As for Coogan, though ... I still think he shouldn't quit his day accent.

No comments: