Robert Downey Jr. vs. Benicio del Toro: Who is Our Generation's Greatest Mushmouth?
When reviewing Sherlock Holmes, Variety critic Todd McCarthy noted of Robert Downey Jr.: "There are times when his well-accented Britspeak reaches such basso depths that his dialogue can't be fully understood." And here I thought I was the only one! For the first half-hour, I often scratched my head at Downey Jr.'s low-register rumblings, and I had the same problem with him occasionally in Iron Man. Still, does Downey Jr. stand a chance of stealing the crown from the Monarch of Mumble, Benicio del Toro? Movieline presents the evidence, but the final decision is up to you.
Robert Downey Jr.: Iron Man, where some of Downey Jr.'s muttered asides would have to be deciphered by either Gwyneth Paltrow's glares (he said something flippant!) or an AC/DC music cue (he said something triumphant!).
Benicio del Toro: The Usual Suspects, where del Toro's mushmouthed take on Fenster convinced costar Stephen Baldwin that he was having an epileptic fit.
ABILITY TO MUMBLE WITH AN ACCENT
Robert Downey Jr.: You might think that going English in Sherlock Holmes would spur Downey Jr. to enunciate, but his initial dialogue readings are so opaque that it falls to Jude Law to essentially repeat his lines for clarification.
Benicio del Toro: del Toro's lupine nature may make him an ideal fit for the title character in The Wolfman, but he's not facile enough to adopt the British accent the rest of the cast uses. Fortunately, though del Toro is supposed to be playing the son of Anthony Hopkins, his American mumbling was preserved courtesy of a script rewrite.
POTENTIAL FUTURE MUMBLINGS
Robert Downey Jr.: I expect that Downey Jr. will keep the sotto voce mumble alive in Iron Man 2, though it remains to be seen if the mumble can hold its own opposite Zach Gaifiankis in the upcoming comedy Due Date.
Benicio del Toro: del Toro is practically playing himself in Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, but I'm really curious to see if he'll make Moe a mushmouth when The Three Stooges finally gets off the ground.