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Worst Boston accents on film…

September 8, 2006
Bahstehn

In response to longtime reader bro’s question on whether any movies have good Boston accents, I have decided that, with your help, we can generate a list of the 10 worst Boston accents in movie history. Here are my nominations, in no particular order:

For a list of Massachusetts-based movies, click here.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2006 2:29 am

    Before last year’s Oscars, the Boston Globe Magazine rated Boston movies, including for their accents, @ http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2005/02/27/reel_boston/
    See the sidebar for their “Hawl of Shame”

  2. September 8, 2006 2:51 am

    Thanks, Lis, for that link. Funny, I remember reading the Best Boston films list, but I totally forget about the “Hawl of Shame.” I’ve only seen two of the five movies mentioned (Blown Away and Quiz Show), but Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting and Tom Hanks in Catch Me If You Can are both just as bad–or worse–than Jeff Bridges or Rob Morrow.

  3. Bones Bartone permalink
    September 8, 2006 2:59 am

    Oh boy do I have a recommendation for you. “Southie” Amazing, amazing film. I don’t think you were there the evening that I saw this movie with Jeff Tiffault, Michelle Leip and one or 2 others (who exactly, I can’t recall).

    There were bad accents but there was also much, much more. I think my favorite line from the movie was when Donnie Wahlberg’s character, after spotting his sworn enemy at a bar, said “I fucking hate that kid” Kid! HA! Perhaps my favorite part of the movie was when D.W. ordered a 6 pack from the bartender for his sister(?) Rose McGowan to drink in the car on the way to rehab!

  4. someone permalink
    September 8, 2006 3:54 am

    Matthew Broderick in “Glory.” Good movie, bad accent.

  5. September 8, 2006 4:35 am

    Two questions:

    1) Does anyone know if people had Boston accents in the mid-1800s?

    2) Tony, have you had a lobotomy? I was there, and I greatly enjoyed this movie, which was so terrible that it was amazing, but I couldn’t disagree more: the one way in this movie succeeded was its Boston accents, which were almost universally good, mainly, I suppose, because most of the cast was from Boston.

    But I will agree on one thing: Southie is truly a great piece of crap cinema.

  6. September 8, 2006 4:49 am

    Kevin Costner in JFK. Oy.

  7. Brad Glaser permalink
    September 8, 2006 7:51 am

    Kevin Costner is doing a bad New Orleans accent in JFK, nothing to do with Boston. If anyone wants a list of bad New Orleans accents on film, I am happy to provide it.

  8. September 8, 2006 1:04 pm

    Costner in “Thirteen Days”, I think you mean.

  9. Phil permalink
    September 8, 2006 2:41 pm

    Costner’s accent in 13 days is the worst. It seems the m.o. for any actor to “learn” a Boston accent is to listen to old JFK speeches, not realizing that no one else talks like that. Of course when you have Mumbles Mennino as your Mayor, you can see why people have bad accents in these movies.

    Was Joe Pesci in With Honors actually from Boston?

    Interesting tidbits on accents in general. Undercover British policemen when feigning an American accent, use lots of words with “R”s in them to remind them that Americans tend to prnounce their “R”s while the British tend to drop their “R”s. The reason that the cast of band of Brothers all talk with Southern accents is that the British actors found this was the easiest accent to pick up.

  10. Jef Tiff permalink
    September 8, 2006 5:33 pm

    Southie is the best bad movie I know of…..even better (worse) than Solider Boyz (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114489). Thanks for taking us down memory lane.

    Along with Walhberg, the cast of Southie boasts break out performances from Amanda Peet and Rose McGowan. And the guy who played Joey Ward should just change his name to Joey Ward.

    Can I go so far as to nominate Ben Afleck in Good Will Hunting? Even with home field advantage, I think he overdoes it?

  11. September 8, 2006 5:48 pm

    Rachel Griffiths in “Blow”. I kid you not – if you haven’t seen it, watch and laugh…..

  12. Juan permalink
    September 17, 2006 6:32 pm

    Rob Morrow in “Quiz Show” is among the worst I’ve heard.

  13. Adam permalink
    November 22, 2007 9:17 am

    Boston Williams in G.W.H. – good actor, good character, HORRIBLE Boston accent. Ridiculous. He’d only even attempt it like every tenth word. Filmmakers should have just changed script and had his character be a guy who moved to Boston from Ohio, which is realistic.

    Laura Linney in Mystic River. Love her as an actress in so much. TERRIBLE Boston accent, made me feel bad for her having to do such a cartoonish stretch, vocally.

    Jack Nicholson in Departed. Pretty good movie. There is no Boston Irish guy who looks or sounds anything like Jack Nicholson in this film. It was pathetic. He did some fun “Jack” stuff, but it had as much to do with actual Boston townie gangstas as if Denzel Washington had played it.

    Tommy Lee Jones in “Blown Away”. OK, this Texan was doing some crazy leprechaunish Irish brogue. It was a joke. He’s another great actor, but to me he doesn’t even look particularly Irish. Why does Hollywood think Boston is crawling with guys with actual BROGUES? Most Boston Irish are 3rd or 4th generation at least and the Boston Irish accent is completely different than the from-Ireland accent. Same with Ray Winstone’s character in Gone Baby Gone. He was a like weird hybrid of Boston Irish, Dubliner and English cockney something or other. He’s tremendous, but the accent was convoluted and bizarre.

    Matt Damon can do a good Boston accent, as can both Afflecks, the Wahlbergs and in Departed Martin Sheen gave a very good effort and Alec Baldwin wasn’t terrible. Gone Baby Gone had some of the thickest, most real crazy Boston townie characters and accents I’ve seen on film, especially for a major Hollywood project.

  14. November 23, 2007 4:24 pm

    Adam, good points all around.

    I agree on Gone Baby Gone. The movie was nothing special, but it easily had the best collection of genuine Boston accents I’ve ever seen in a Hollywood-made film. I liked, too, how they didn’t attempt to force a Boston accent on those who couldn’t do one, like Casey Affleck’s girlfriend in the film. And Amy Ryan should get an honorary Oscar for her spot-on Boston white trash accident (as well as a real Oscar nom for her performance). The only accent, it seemed to me, that wasn’t quite right was Amy Ryan’s aunt.

  15. Ryan permalink
    January 7, 2008 6:13 pm

    Micah,
    If Rob Morrow in Quiz show isn’t at the top of your list, does it mean there is some sector of Boston that talks like him? I saw the movie again very recenty and it seemed awful to me. I don’t live there though but I did live with you, Phil and Chris for a couple years. Oh wait, 2 of you don’t have accents and Phil’s came and went depending on how long it had been since he saw his friends at “Bridgewatah” Just kidding Phil. A night out at the club in Providence was a highlight of college plus that hot chick at the deli in Milton.

  16. Polly permalink
    March 29, 2008 11:23 am

    To “my own worst critic” – September 8, 2006 at 4:35 am. Did you ever find an answer to your question about whether people had bostonian accents in the mid 1800’s? I really need to know now for a major in which I am recording a speech and I have to consider how bostonian I make my accent or how british. Any thoughts?

  17. Erin permalink
    March 3, 2009 7:12 am

    1. Tom Hanks in Catch Me If You Can
    2. Tim Robbins in Mystic River
    3. Laura Linney in Mystic River
    4. Rob Morrow in Quiz Show
    5. Kevin Costner in JFK

  18. Csensis permalink
    June 11, 2010 9:21 am

    Wasn’t Tom Hanks’ character in “Catch Me if You Can” supposed to be from Chicago? In Which case he wasn’t even trying for a Boston accent. It sounded like a Chicago accent to me.

  19. Heidi permalink
    July 5, 2010 2:39 am

    How did Diane Lane in Perfect Storm not make this list???

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