Say What? Assessing the Vocal Tics from True Grit
As our very own Dixon Gaines so accurately put it on Sunday, True Grit is "the compromise movie of households worldwide," which is great news for those households -- and Brooks Barnes -- since the latest from the Coen Brothers is actually quite impressive. That is, if you can understand the dialogue, which is spoken through more grunts, lisps and slurs than your local pub at closing time. Or The King's Speech. Ahead, Movieline attempts to discover just which True Grit cast member had the most arresting vocal tic.
Josh Brolin as Tom Chaney
Vocal affliction: Peanut Butter mouth
Sample dialogue: Aaron Burr
Comprehension difficulty: High. One of the neatest tricks in True Grit -- besides that it is way funnier than you'd imagine -- is that Brolin's Chaney isn't painted as some master gunslinger, but instead as a sorta pathetic loser with a silly voice. Whether or not Brolin actually layered peanut butter on the roof of his mouth for this performance in unclear, but the results were fairly muffled.
Jeff Bridges as Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn
Vocal affliction: Drunken grunting.
Sample dialogue: [Grumble] Son! [Grunt] Money! [Grr] Booze!
Comprehension difficulty: Medium-to-high. Once you get past the initial shock of hearing The Dude affect Christian Bale's vocal register in The Dark Knight, Bridges-as-Cogburn is a bit easier to understand, but some of his off-handed one-liners certainly get lost in the movie theater speakers.
Matt Damon as LaBoeuf
Vocal affliction: Bit tongue.
Sample dialogue: Sufferin' Succotash!
Comprehension difficulty: Medium. Damon speaks in tones befitting a man who thinks he's way more important than he actually is...until he bites part of his tongue off after being dragged by a horse during a confrontation with Lucky Ned Pepper's gang. The result makes him sound like a cartoon character during the last third of the film, but a cartoon character with a very high opinion of himself and Texas.
Barry Pepper as "Lucky" Ned Pepper
Vocal affliction: Bad teeth.
Sample dialogue: Unclear, too busy looking as his busted teeth.
Comprehension difficulty: Low. Kidding aside, Pepper provides True Grit with one of the film's best performances -- and all-too-brief turn as the villainous-but-fair Ned Pepper. That he's able to deliver his lines through a thicket of fake chompers makes it all the more impressive. And you thought the Coen Brothers were known for their mustaches.