The Kids Are American
An American movie takes place in a foreign land. Just to prove it to you, all the adults have an appropriate accent (or at least some kind of accent). Then a kid shows up speaking fluent American English, and unless the kid is a stellar actor, this can poke a hole in Suspension of Disbelief. This actually has a fairly logical explanation. The vast majority of Hollywood's movies are filmed in California, and there are a number of laws involving child actors all around the world. Finding a kid who lives in or near Los Angeles just makes the situation a lot less complicated. And due to Hollywood's gravity, this effect bleeds into animation and video games as well. Truth in Television if the family has immigrated to the States; children's speech patterns aren't fully set until age 12 or so, anyone younger than that can learn a new language without an accent and/or pick up the local accent within a language with sufficient immersion. Even afterwards, a few lucky people can adapt their accents; some people have arrived in the US as late as 18 or 20 and managed to learn to speak English with flawless American accents.
open/close all folders
- Robin Hood: Most of the adults have British accents, but all the kids have American ones.
- In How to Train Your Dragon, every single member of the parents' generation speaks with a Scottish accent. Every single member of Hiccup's speaks with an American one.
- An American Tail: The Mousekewitz family starts off in Russia, and while Mama and Papa have extremely thick Russian accents, Fievel and Tanya have American ones before they move to America.
- In Pinocchio, Geppetto (Christian Rub) has a foreign accent but Pinocchio (Dickie Jones) has a Midwestern American accent.
- Disney has also inverted this trope, however. In Peter Pan, the Darling kids are practically the only characters with British accents. The same is true with Alice in Alice in Wonderland, though to a lesser extent. Some Wonderland characters sound English, but the most prominent ones sound American. (Incidentally, Alice and Wendy were voiced by the same British child actress, Kathryn Beaumont.)
- In The Aristocats, Duchess sounds Eastern European (voice actress Eva Gabor was Hungarian), while the kittens sound American, despite being natives of Paris, France.
- Simba in The Lion King, in sharp contrast to his parents (although Mufasa has more of a "Mid-Atlantic" accent than a non-American one, and Sarabi's accent wobbles between American and Madge Sinclair's native Jamaican). Uncle Scar, however, sounds British.
Film (Live Action)
- The Sound of Music: Everyone has a British accent, except the youngest kids in the von Trapp family.
- Both film adaptations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory go with a Where the Hell Is Springfield? approach to the location of Charlie Bucket's home and Wonka's Factory, and this trope winds up being invoked in one version and inverted in another. In the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was shot in Munich, Charlie and his family are amongst the only people in town with American accents — while in the 2005 version Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they're amongst the only ones with British accents.
- Inverted in Aliens: Everybody's American, but the one kid sounds British, and the film was made in Buckinghamshire in the United Kingdom. Justified, since she's unrelated to any of the adults that appear on-screen; the extended edition DVD shows Newt's family, and they all have mild British accents. Lampshaded: The DVD interviews note that the actress's natural English accent is noticeable in some scenes (such as "There's a short-cut across the roof") but it was kept in the finished film.
- Also inverted in Superman II, which was largely filmed in the UK. The few child characters who appear all have British accents, which is more glaring than usual because one is a kid from a hick town and the other two are a pair of streetwise black kids.
- In Jurassic Park, John Hammond is Scottish while his grandchildren are American. However, his company is apparently U.S.-based, so it's easy to imagine Lex and Tim were raised in America. But then in The Lost World, American actor Arliss Howard plays Hammond's adult nephew with an English accent...
- In the novel, Hammond is not specified to have any foreign accent, nor is he said to be foreign, period. Whereas Malcolm is subtly implied to be British; when he introduces himself, he says, "I do maths." Americans would more likely say "math." Perhaps the filmmakers picked up on this and inverted the apparent accents...
- This is inverted in The Kite Runner, which takes place partially in Afghanistan. The child actors were Afghan, but the adult cast was composed of Iranian, British and French actors. In fact, many of them had to learn Farsi for the part.
Live Action Television
- Inverted with Queer as Folk: The American series was set in Pittsburgh, but filmed in Canada — the kid has a Canadian accent.
- Similary inverted in Power Rangers Samurai, in which all the adults have American accents, but flashbacks of the Red and Gold Rangers have them as kids with New Zealand accents.
- A minor example from Lost: (Scottish) Desmond and (English) Penny's son, in one of his few lines, says "Mommy" instead of the British "Mummy". They're filming in Hawaii and can't exactly get a British 3-year old, so it gets a pass.
- Angel's son, Conner was born in America, but abducted when he was just a few weeks old and grew up in a "Hell Dimension" with his only human contact being his "father"/abductee, who had an English accent. Conner's accent is, of course, American.
- In Once Upon a Time, Rumpelstiltskin has a Scottish accent, his wife has an English accent, and their son Baelfire has an American accent. It's not so apparent since the kingdom is shown to have accents from all over the globe.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender is a good example: None of the main, 12- to 16-year-old actors have non-American accents, but plenty of adults do: Iroh, played by Mako, has a Japanese accent, as does the warden from the episode "Imprisoned", played by George Takei. James Hong plays the mayor of Chin in season two, which also introduces the Foggy Swamp Water Tribe, whose members sound as if they hail from the Deep South. This is probably a Translation Convention, as they all write in traditional calligraphy.
- On the other hand, Sokka & Katara's, Toph's, and Zuko's parents all have American accents. Worth noting, however, is that Aang's Parental Substitute Gyatso has a Japanese accent.
- It's also worth noting that with a larger talent pool of adult actors the show is far more likely to cast Asians for the adult roles, even if they have American accents, like Daniel Dae Kim as general Fong or George Takei as the warden.
- Intentionally done in Gargoyles. The elderly Hudson has a thick Scottish Accent while the rest of the clan range from American Accents to neutral. This was done to highlight the generational differences and acceptances each had of the modern world. As the series progressed, more Clans living in Modern Times would be discovered (Specifically the English, Japanese, and Guatemalan clans) spoke in region appropriate accents. An explanation of the Avalon Clan (who all grew up with Scottish or English accented characters yet still spoke with an American accent) was never given.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: Both Jackie and Uncle have been living in America for years, but retain noticeable Chinese accents. Jade is fresh out of Hong Kong, but sounds like she grew up in Los Angeles.
- Some of the younger locomotives in Thomas the Tank Engine were given American accents in the later episodes, while some of the older locomotives were given British accents.
- Averted with the humans however, where both the children and the adults in that case all have British accents.
- The newer engines were imported from America (or Canada) after the British locomotive industry went under?
- On Mike, Lu & Og, Lu and Og sound American compared to the adults' British accents. Subverted with Mike, who is American.