As we mentioned in our June Indie Preview, one of our favorite movies of the month is Your Sister’s Sister, Lynn Shelton’s smart and sophisticated indie rom-com featuring Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Mark Duplass. But even great moves can have their little flaws, and one thing did nag at us a bit while watching the film: how is it that Blunt and DeWitt are sisters, but have completely different accents? Blunt speaks in her natural British (instead of adopting an American accent, as she did to match onscreen sister Amy Adams in Sunshine Cleaning), and DeWitt keeps her American accent (instead of adopting one to match Blunt’s, as Alison Brie did in The Five Year Engagement). It doesn’t ruin the movie or anything, but it did get us thinking about other movies where we didn’t completely buy the familial connection of the characters; after the jump, we’ve assembled ten of the most egregious examples.
You’d have to search far and wide to find a bigger admirer of Lars von Trier’s 2011 apocalypse tale; we’ve sung its praises here many times before. However, we must admit to being a bit bothered by von Trier’s apparent “who cares” attitude about familial make-up. The film is centered on two sisters, whose parents are played by Brits John Hurt and Charlotte Rampling, but the daughters are blonde-haired, blue-eyed, American-accented Kirsten Dunst, and dark-haired, brown-eyed, French-accented Charlotte Gainsbourg. One could, perhaps, argue that the director was further accentuating the differences in their characters by casting such opposite actresses, but let’s be honest — he probably just cast the actors he wanted and said to hell with it.
Sidney Lumet’s 1989 caper drama gives us Sean Connery as Jessie, Dustin Hoffman as his son Vito, and Matthew Broderick as Hoffman’s son Adam. “Hoffman is Connery’s son, half Scots and half Sicilian,” wrote Roger Ebert in his review of the film, “and Broderick is Hoffman’s son, half Jewish. The movie makes such a point of the hereditary makeup of the three men, I guess, because the caper involves breaking into a genetic engineering laboratory and stealing some DNA research material.” We have another theory: the movie makes such a point of the hereditary makeup of the three men because no one would believe that Dustin Hoffman is Sean Connery’s son. Aside from the total physical and vocal dissimilarity, there’s one other factor worth mentioning: when the film was released, Connery was 59 and Hoffman was 52. We know Mr. Connery is a sex symbol, but it’s a little tough to believe that he fathered a child at the tender age of seven.
Connery would have been a ripe old man at fatherhood age, however, compared to Angelina Jolie, who played Olympias, mother to Colin Farrell’s Alexander, in Oliver Stone’s misbegotten 2004 would-be epic. At the time of the film’s release, Farrell was 28 years old… and Jolie was all of 29. Look, there have been plenty of examples of very small age gaps in parent-child relationships onscreen — The Manchurian Candidate leaps to mind, where Angela Lansbury played mother to Laurence Harvey, who was only three years her junior. But Lansbury has always been able to play older convincingly; not so much with Jolie, who barely looks her 29 years here.
Fireflies in the Garden
The long-delayed theatrical release of this family drama last fall didn’t make much noise; industry folks had possibly forgotten all about it, since it had premiered at the Berlin Film Festival clear back in 2008. Or maybe they just couldn’t get past the film’s central premise, which held that Ryan Reynolds was the 31-year-old son of 40-year-old Julia Roberts.
Boyz N the Hood
John Singleton’s debut film was one of your film editor’s favorite movies as a teenager, and since we all tend to be a bit more forgiving at that age, it presumably didn’t strike me as odd that 30-year-old Laurence Fishburne (who had, just three years earlier, played a college student in Spike Lee’s School Daze) and 33-year-old Angela Bassett were parents to 23-year-old Cuba Gooding Jr. It’s not an issue in the early scenes, when little Tre Stiles is played by the younger Desi Arnez Hines II, but when Gooding takes over, the film hilariously tries to “age up” Fishburne accordingly — putting him in glasses. Look how old and wise he is now!, we all presumably think.
Riding in Cars with Boys
Fishburne’s aging is far easier to swallow than that of Drew Barrymore, who, like Fishburne, had to age several years in this coming-of-age story from 2001. She’s totally believable as the young mother in the film’s early scenes, but when her son reaches teenagehood, it gets a little, well, incredible — mostly because her son is played by Adam Garcia, who was exactly two years younger than his on-screen mom.
The Other Boleyn Girl
Few young actresses have inspired quite as much young love (and lust) as Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, so the idea of them appearing in the same film threatened to make fanboys’ heads explode from coast to coast. But there was one problem: the film they teamed up for paired them up as sisters, and though the duo share the common attribute of being unreasonably good-looking, they pretty much look nothing alike. That’s probably not why the movie didn’t find an audience, though; we’re presuming that had more to do with the fact that it’s dull as toast.
The Invisible Circus
In the sister similarity sweepstakes, however, Portman and Johansson are doppelgangers compared to the siblings in the 1999 drama The Invisible Circus, who are played by Brazilian-American brunette Jordana Brewster and blonde-haired, blue-eyed Cameron Diaz. Look, we know that siblings often have different hair colors, eye colors, features, etc. But in movie world, we’re used to characters looking alike — and it helps us believe that these random actors are actually related. Right?
The Lovely Bones
Similarly, though it’s not unheard of for a child to look completely different from their parents, still: Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg are both brunettes. Their daughters in Peter Jackson’s terrible film adaptation of The Lovely Bones are played by Saorise Ronan and Rose McIver — both blondes. This incongruity is far from the biggest problem with Jackson’s film, but suffice it to say that if we were Wahlberg’s character, we’d have some questions about that blonde UPS guy.
The Harry Potter films
As American moviegoers, we often tend to lump all dialects from the UK into the broad category of “British accents.” (Heck, we did it in this very post!) But there are more regional dialects over there than you can shake a stick at, and while we might not grasp the nuances, local audiences often do. Take, for example, the Weasley family in the Harry Potter movies, who are played by actors from all over England, and to the trained ear, they sound like it: Arthur (Mark Williams) has a West Midlands accent, while Molly (Julie Walters) a bit of a Manchester lilt. Twins Fred and George are played by twins James and Oliver Phelps, born in Birmingham and carrying the accent of that area; Bonnie Wright (Ginny) also uses something like her natural accent (she hails from London). How to explain this disparity? Magic, perhaps?
Those are the movie families we had a hard time buying — what about you? Leave yours in the comments!