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Funbag

Shut Up About Bad Movie Accents

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 21: Actor Benedict Cumberbatch attends "The Current War" New York Premiere at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on October 21, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s novel, Point B, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about being bored, food movies, nightmare stadiums, loud songs that make you cry, and more.

Your letters:

Steve:

Following on from Drew’s terrible take about Lindsay Lohan’s English accent in The Parent Trap (which is excruciatingly bad, believe me) I’d like to ask what the worst American accent ever committed to film is.

It’s Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange. And I like Benedict Cumberbatch. But all throughout Doctor Strange, you can hear him desperately trying to corral his native accent for the part. It’s not like when Hugh Laurie went on House and nailed the accent so well that I didn’t even KNOW the guy was British at first. The Batch’s attempt at American English was genuinely distracting.

And surprising too, given how talented Cumberbatch is and given how little heed I pay movie accents. In general, I can NEVER tell when a British person is doing a poor American accent. This is because there are 562 American accents, and it’s also largely because I just don’t care. Robert Pattinson couldn’t master a Boston accent in The Lighthouse, and I was like, “You know what? That’s fine. Let every Sully and Billy out there complain about it.” R-Pattz gave it his best in that movie. He even willingly filmed a scene where he had a nervous breakdown while jerking off. It’s not like he was in idle mode for that shoot. I also didn’t care that Daniel Craig botched a southern accent in Knives Out. It was still a good movie. The Lighthouse, on the other hand … well, it had some issues.

In fact, I’ll expand this take. So long as they make a genuine effort, and so long as they’re not being racist in the attempt, I don’t care if any actor botches any accent. I adjust to their mangled diction and continue my viewing in supreme comfort. What the fuck do I care if they couldn’t, with a few weeks to prepare, flawlessly affect an entirely different manner of speaking? Not everyone can be Meryl Streep. Lower your fucking expectations. Most every actor out there WANTS to get their accent down. They hire coaches. They study. They rehearse with a mirror late into the night. They want their role to look and sound authentic. They want that far more than even you do.

And yet if an actor slips once on camera, people are just DYING to rip the staged accent apart. It’s such an easy chance to be the fucking know-it-all. To pretend like you’re the only goddamn person who can hear the flubs. Whoa hey I’m from Olympia and no one here sounds anything like that. Guess what, buddy? No one else gives a shit.

Whining about movie accents is like whining that the wrong curtains are hanging in the background. It only matters so much. And yet I could be watching the next Citizen Kane and if some actor might accidentally slips on an accent, that’s all your average Twitter reviewer needs to be like TRASH. Let it go. You’re not a goddamn anthropology professor. No one is impressed that you’re unimpressed. YOU try wearing an Aussie accent around for a 60-day shoot without fucking it up. I was BORN in that country and I can’t even do the accent right. I’ll survive and so will you.

Now if Steve up there thinks Lindsay had a lousy British accent in The Parent Trap, then that’s his prerogative. He’s probably right. But again, I can’t bring myself to care. It doesn’t matter anywhere NEAR as much as people act like it does. If you’re an insufferable Accent Cop and you expect every accent in every movie to be fucking flawless, well then get ready for a lifetime of disappointment on celluloid.

David:

This is Hyundai’s new minivan, the 2022 Staria. This minivan FUCKS, right?

No minivan fucks. Take it from a guy who’s owned a minivan for over a decade now. Oh, automakers would LIKE minivans to fuck, but only big vans get to be a-rockin’. There’s nothing you can do to a regular-ass minivan that’s gonna help it fuck. I don’t even WANT my minivan to fuck. I want my minivan to give you a friendly peck on the cheek and then go about its merry way.

My wife and I actually bought a new minivan (the Honda Odyssey, which is really an overpromise of a brand name) on Sunday. The old one’s AC was shot and the repair bill had SUNK COST written all over it. So we were like, “The kids are all bigger now. We can finally ditch the Sienna and get an SUV like the Karens we truly are!”

Well, guess what? We were wrong. Our kids require even more legroom than we already had, not less. And they’re so used to spreading out across two back rows that we played ourselves and will NEVER be able to get them to squeeze into just one (a lot of SUVs have third rows and they’re a fucking joke; they’re for piling into Jayden’s mom’s Highlander to go on a beer run). None of these kids has ever had to ride in the middle bench seat on a long road trip, and they will forever lack character as a result. You gotta ride there—with a hump running down the center of the chassis—to truly appreciate the times when you do NOT have to.

But I’m too spoiled by minivans to force that particular bit of character building on my offspring. When I take the kids on long road trips in a minivan, they don’t say a fucking word anymore. They don’t fight. They don’t scream. They don’t throw shit. They just stare at screens for nine straight hours while my wife and I chitchat in the front. It’s bliss. I can never retire from this van life. I guess I could have moved over to the Raging Asshole class of mega-SUVs, like the Suburban. But I won’t make that leap. The van still does the job, and it provides all the cup holders and USB ports we require.

Dan:

When I was a kid my parents always told me that I needed to “learn how to be bored” as an excuse why I couldn’t play my Gameboy for the entire three-hour drive to our cabin every weekend. As an adult, that has paid off and I am now extremely good at it (I one time took a 13-hour flight to Japan while doing nothing but drinking beer and sleeping and zoning out, 4-5 hour drives for work through the Midwest are nothing to me). But with the proliferation of portable entertainment everywhere you go, is “being good at boredom” a skill that has no value anymore?

Clover answered this when she guest hosted in March but lemme be greedy and get in my own take on it. No, it still has real value. And yes, I tell my kids that they need to learn how to be bored all the goddamn time, except on long road trips when I want them silent and invisible.

But apart from road trips, knowing how to spend quality time with yourself (non-masturbation division) is still important, and probably even MORE important now that there are 50 million outside diversions and voices all ready to pollute your mind. If you don’t step away from that—again, if you’re a child and not me, because I can be online all I want—then you’ll NEVER get to know yourself. You’ll be forever co-dependent on outside stimuli and unable to ever be truly alone. You won’t be able to talk to your own mind. You won’t have new thoughts. You won’t be able to play around with those thoughts or develop them. You won’t daydream. You’ll just spend the rest of your life with Fanboy Brain. And I can tell which people out there have Fanboy Brain because they’re the people who get, like, Tom Hiddleston trending for absolutely no newsworthy reason.

I’m like Dan in that I can spend an inordinate amount of time just spacing the fuck out now. I can sit on an airplane and close my eyes, without actually falling asleep, and be just fine for hours on end. This sort of behavior would have freaked me out years ago. But I LIKE hanging out with my brain now. I am no longer bored when I’m bored. Sometimes I need music or a book to pass the time, but other times I can just think about cool shit and live there for a while.

One of my favorite times of day is when I get into bed and do some quality thinking before I fall asleep. Sometimes I think of shit to write, or nagging errands I have to run. Or sometimes I worry about things large and small. But most of the time, I am in DREWLAND. I’m working on a TV pitch with a studio for Point B right now and I’ve spent night after night after night just … being inside that show. Hanging with all the characters. Watching them port to and fro. Seeing it so clearly that I get annoyed that I can’t find clips of it on Youtube and what not. I love that time to myself, and I know I wouldn’t love it quite as much if I had spent every waking hour of my childhood playing My Hero on the Sega instead of merely 80 percent of it.

You only get one mind. I know this far too intimately. If you treat your own mind like it’s an unwelcome party guest, you’re gonna end up being a miserable, uninteresting sack of shit. So you need those long stretches where you’re desperate for something to do but are ultimately forced to just hang. Alone. And then, when the fun times DO come back around, you’ll actually have something to contribute to them, instead of being a guy who’s like, “Oh I saw that Sound of Metal. MEH.”

Alan:

Have you ever seen the movie Dinner Rush? I come from the F&B Industry so I gave it a try and LOVED IT.  It has a pretty good soundtrack, awesome cooking scenes, cool mafia stuff, and an ending that is very satisfying. It got me wondering what other food/cooking movies are out there. Since you seem to be into the food culture, do you have any recommendations?

You know what? I don’t think I do. The only good food movie I can think of off the top of my head is Big Night, but that movie is a quarter of a century old. I haven’t seen any other cooking-themed movies since. I never saw Chef. I never saw that one Bradley Cooper foodie movie that everyone hated. I did see Chocolat, which was one of those shitty indie movies that got a bunch of Oscar nods strictly because Harvey Weinstein bought them. It was a pile of shit. I didn’t even like Ratatouille. So here’s one question where I can’t even pull an answer out of my ass. I owe you money.

I remember food scenes in movies. The prison kitchen in Goodfellas. Clemenza teaching Michael to make Sunday gravy in The Godfather. Rey’s insta-bread in Force Awakens. Daniel Day-Lewis merrily eating his poisoned mushrooms in Phantom Thread. But if I want wire-to-wire food porn, movies are the WORST place to find it. There are entire cable networks—more than one!—dedicated to showing off the goods. Or I can watch old Bourdain episodes. Or I can read some Bill Buford. The menu of alternate options is long and appetizing.

If you ever google around for best food movies, as I did just now, you’ll find Big Night and the same half-dozen other titles over and over again. Food movies are like sports movies in that they get a much longer shelf life than they deserve merely because they’re in one of those genres. AND THE ACCENTS ARE SIMPLY APPALLING. And yet, if you make any food movie that’s NOT Julie & Julia, it gets to live on through internet listicles until the sun dies. To that end, I would ask Hollywood to make more food movies. But, as with sports movies, I don’t really need them. I can just go fucking eat something instead.

HALFTIME!

Jack:

Which food or drink item, excluding stuff like salt, has the least quality/taste difference between its cheapest version and its most expensive iteration?

There have been so many takes and studies about how cheap wine and fancy wine are often indistinguishable that I’m not even gonna bother to link one here. Also, I’ve had some real nice wine that blew away your average glass of Yellow Tail, so I don’t even agree with blind taste tests that say oenophiles can’t tell the difference between a $500 bottle and a bottle of rotgut.

Beer is another matter. Before I formally retired from drinking, Miller Lite was my favorite beer. I promise you that I did no shortage of due diligence in arriving at that conclusion. But there will be 300 beer snobs down in the comments telling me that I know dick, and I have no interest in engaging with any of that shit. So lemme run down a few other items that fit Jack’s criteria without kicking off a flame war:

• Queso. I learned to make queso during quarantine. I thought making queso was hard. It is not. All you need is a brick of Velveeta and two cans of Rotel. Heat them up together and HEY PRESTO! You’ve got a fiesta. I had fancy queso at some Mexican joint years ago in Battery Park that used, like, seven different cheeses and was served in an individual cast iron skillet. It sucked. The trashy queso is the queso I want.

Hamburgers. I’ve said this before, but the more expensive a burger is, the more your return diminishes. How much is a burger from Five Guys, or whichever fast casual joint is your favorite? It’s like $10 at the most, right? There’s absolutely no need to spend more on that for a burger. “Yeah but Drew, if you go to this ONE spot…” FUCK OFF.

Fried chicken. Same deal. Every pre-pandemic Nu-Southern joint had fried chicken or a fried chicken sandwich on the menu for $25. Is this chicken ever as good as Popeyes or Bonchon? Never. In fact, they put that shit on the menu specifically because they know you’ll be too cowardly to actually try something new. You’ll get all smug and be like, “Everyone is mad jelly I ordered the fried chicken” when anyone can get good fried chicken any fucking time.

Shakes. I dunno if Instagram shake joints that put an entire wedge of cheesecake on top of a shake are still a thing, but I sure as shit hope they died in the pandemic. Just go to Cook Out. It’s the best.

Fries. OK, I’ve lingered for too long on restaurant items. Let’s back up and hit the grocery store.

Salmon. I bought overpriced salmon at the store once, instead of farmed salmon raised in a lake of pure mercury. The $20/lb. sockeye was worthless by comparison. Gimme the mercury.

Bananas. I have never had a banana—organic or otherwise—that tasted like anything other than a regular old Chiquita banana.

Cookies. Whether you make them yourself or buy a fat package of Fudge Stripes, you’re already near the pinnacle of cookiedom.

Beluga caviar. No need to mess with the imported shit. I get mine from a guy named Lester for just $33 a barrel, and it’s FABULOUS.

Dan:

If CERN built a second large Hadron Collider would they have a pair of large Hadron Colliders? What if one was painted stripey and the other was painted spotty, would it still be a pair? If you swap out large Hadron Colliders for socks…does having two socks, one spotty and stripy mean you have a pair of socks? Or do you have to have two spotty socks for it to be a pair? 

Gotta be identical to be a pair. I didn’t realize that until you just gave me the notion, but now I’m gripping onto that take like I’m holding it with a pair of pliers… BUT OH WOW A PAIR OF PLIERS JUST ONE THING! WHAT?! And what’s the deal with cab drivers putting the radio on too loud?!

Jared:

Would the 2019 Bucs have also won the Super Bowl had they started literally anyone besides Jameis at QB?

No. The 2020 Bucs turned out to be loaded as they ransacked its way through the postseason, but the previous year’s version wasn’t beating the Chiefs if, like, Ryan Fitzpatrick was behind the wheel all the way through. My days of active-aggressively withholding credit from Tom Brady remain behind me. I don’t think Brady magically turned Shaq Griffin into a monster edge rusher, or taught the Bucs’ young secondary how to cover. I do think success is infectious on a football team, but it’s not THAT infectious. The Bucs still needed a BIG upgrade from Jameis, no matter the year. So they signed Brady and he turned out to be just that.

In fact, Brady threw more touchdowns in 2020 than he had in any season since 2007. So it’s not like the Bucs’ roster core was the 2000 Ravens, where any inoffensive stiff back there would have done the job. They needed Brady. Brady needed them. It worked out so perfectly that I wanna drive my new minivan off an embankment.

By the way, Jameis is still putrescent and I hope he gets benched 26 times next season.

Yahoots:

Lately I’ve been having some bladder issues, basically I go from being fine to HOLY SHIT I’M PISSING MYSELF in like 0.42 seconds. This is especially problematic because I am a mailman and am usually a 5-20 minute walk away from my truck where I can crawl in the back and piss in a Powerade bottle…I know, gross but what ya gonna do. The other day I couldn’t make it to my truck and ducked in some bushes and pissed in somebody’s landscaping. It’s not jogging lady pooping on the sidewalk bad, but I know if word got out, or God forbid somebody get me on video, I might be fucked. I guess I need to go to the doctor and see if I can get some meds. Maybe pot will be a cure and I can justify buying some flower and smoking a big fat blunt every now and again (Illinois with the legal weed FTW!).

Yeah I don’t think weed is gonna help you out there, amigo. You should go see a doctor to make sure your kidneys aren’t growing tree limbs. I’ve had bladder issues my whole life, but I’ve never had anything like the symptoms you’ve just described. If I did, I would tie a Ziploc bag around my three-piece set and go directly to the urologist. Also, I don’t want you having to pee in your mail truck. Bad enough when Amazon employees have to do it.

AA:

If you could take a wrecking ball to any stadium or arena in the US, on the condition of a) putting up something in the public interest and b) upsetting the owner, fans and area residents, what would you choose? Knock down the Cowboys’ stadium and put up a solar energy farm? Controlled demolition of the Stanford University arena to be replaced by a 50-story apartment building for homeless Californians? Surely you have some good ideas.

I do. Too many, in fact. My first answer was gonna be Fenway, just to be a dick. Then I was like, “No wait, the new Yankee Stadium is MUCH worse than Fenway.” But then you also mentioned Jerryworld and I would pay at least $20 to see Jerryworld get demolished while a mafia henchman forces Jerry Jones to watch it while putting him in an armbar. Oh! And that new Braves stadium! Also, as someone who has been to multiple WFT games, I can tell you that absolutely no one would be sad to see that stadium leveled. Not even Dan Snyder would complain, which in turn would make its implosion bittersweet for the rest of us.

And then I realized it: Cameron Indoor Stadium.

And then I realized it again: NOTRE DAME STADIUM. That’s it. That’s the one. What you do is you place 500 pounds of plastique on the 50-yard line at Notre Dame Stadium. And then, you rig a separate cannon with a sensitive trigger and aim it directly at Touchdown Jesus’s balls. So Touchdown Jesus has to watch the stadium get nuked into oblivion and then, in a final insult, the blast sets off the Testicle Cannon and TJ gets a mortar shell directly in his blessed scrotum. Then, atop the smoldering ashes, we build a SECOND U-Miami. That’s what I would do.

Chris:

Yesterday I was listening to the song “I Appear Missing” by QOTSA. Knowing the story behind Homme’s coma and listening to the lyrics, I felt myself getting pretty teary-eyed until I eventually started weeping by the time the guitar solo started. But it struck me as odd; the song itself is a heavy, high-energy rock song, not some Jason Isbell ballad designed to make me regret not calling my parents enough. My question is: what is the most metal song that you think makes people emotional? When was the last time you cried while headbanging?

“I Appear Missing” is my favorite QOTSA song and I think about it a lot, especially given that I also once spent some time in a coma. I can’t remember if I ever cried while listening to it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I had. I cry freely, but I’m not in that weird subclass of bullshitters who cry because they saw a particularly empowering photo of Phoebe Bridgers. I did choke up the first time I heard the official studio version of “True Love Waits,” but that ain’t the headbangingest song ever produced. The most vivid memory I have of crying during a song was singing along to “Celebrated Summer” while driving back and forth to college. It’s when the noise subsides for a moment and Bob Mould sings:

Then the sun disintegrates between a wall of clouds
I summer where I winter at … no one is allowed there

Absolutely fucking wrecked me on every trip. And no one was around to see me tear up, so I could cry all I liked. I imagined crying through the lyrics while performing the song on stage. I love it when singers cry on stage. Lets you know they mean it.

Email of the week!

Chip:

To save the long, boring prelude, we randomly had our water cut off one day this past summer. I called and raised hell and got them to come back out the next day to turn it on, then went and hit up a taco stand before going in to work. Delicious.

The utility company had given me the usual 8-12 window for when they’d be out to turn it back on. I was working nights at the time, so no big deal, except for the tacos. Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious and healthful enough that they stayed in me until the next day, but once they wanted to come out, they were coming out. This was at around nine, so I didn’t want to shit in the toilet and have it potentially marinate for three hours before I could flush. So I weighed my options and headed for the backyard.

It was a nice day, and I communed with nature, popping a squat behind my garage (this being the most private spot I could find). My dog came out with me since he hadn’t been out yet and watched me leave a nice, solid log. It was lovely. I decided I was OK with leaving used toilet paper in the toilet, smell-wise, and went in to wipe.

Came back outside to review my handiwork and it was completely gone. All that’s left is the dog, sitting there with a literal shit-eating grin on his face. I haven’t let him give me kisses since.

He just wants to love you.