Some weeks ago I stumbled upon a little brain game that has given me no end of amusement. Picture a ridiculous, goofy, manic action sidekick from a popular movie franchise. Preferably someone so over-the-top that if they threatened you with a hot BBQ poker you’d laugh right in their big fat facebeak. For me, I picked Chris Tucker of Rush Hour and Fifth Element fame. Because, well, Chris Tucker.
Got your wacky comedy sidekick in mind? Can you hear them screeching shrilly into your ear? Good, now imagine their movie lines being recited instead by some stone-cold gravel-voiced menace. Take those comedy warbles and swap them with the slow, steady vocal grind of Mickey Rourke or Sam Elliott. Suddenly, those high-pitch throwaway one-liner jokes sound pretty badass…
Captain: Two officers were shot, one man lost a pinkie.
Carter (Chris Tucker): But didn’t nobody die.
Captain :You destroyed half a city block!
Carter (Chris Tucker): That block was already messed up…
Captain: Every now and then we have to let the general public know that we can still blow shit up.
Carter (Chris Tucker): You’re God damn right.
See what I mean? Change the cadence. Make the dialogue play slower in your head. Give the lines to Bruce Willis, and suddenly Chris Tucker’s character sounds like an explosion-hungry wanton badass. Here are some more from IMDB, sans rebuttal from Jackie Chan’s character.
Carter (Chris Tucker): You don’t know nothing about no War.
Carter (Chris Tucker): This ain’t no democracy. This is the United States of James Carter. I’m the president, I’m the emperor, I’m the king. I’m Michael Jackson, you Tito. Your ass belongs to me.
Carter (Chris Tucker): Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?
Carter (Chris Tucker): I don’t want no partner, I don’t need no partner, and I ain’t never gonna have no partner. Did Kojak have a partner?
And my personal favorite for this thought exercise:
Carter (Chris Tucker): [after killing Sang] Wipe yourself off, man. You dead.