For Christmas this year, DOROTHEE PARTERRE recounts her version of The Island of Misfit Toys – The Island of Mispronounced Names; an island where American and British celebs live – trapped inside their French pronunciations.
Every year at Christmas my father would tell us the story of the Island of Misfit Toys, an isolated place somewhere near the North Pole, where Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer came from, and where toys that were broken or just not made right, lived together, yearning for the day they’d be adopted by loving children and accepted for who they are.
Keeping with the Parterre tradition, I too, each Christmas, tell the story – only my version doesn’t involve misfit toys, but an island of mispronounced names; an island where American and British celebs live together trapped inside their French pronunciations. Like the misfit toys, they too yearn to be adopted and accepted for who they are.
So with that, gather around little ones and listen closely because…
Far far away in the North Atlantic up near Franz Joseph Land and Kiffe-Air Suh-terre Land (Kiefer Sutherland), there existed an island of mispronounced names. The inhabitants were not there by choice but instead had been cast away only because their name, when pronounced in French, made them, well… odd.
Justin Timberlake, the pop singer, didn’t live on this island but Just-een Teem-bah-lech (Justin Timberlake) did, and because the way his name was pronounced, Justeen wasn’t a singer, but a female dermatologist who once had an office in the 16th arrondissement.
But Justeen wasn’t alone.
The mispronounced tennis legend and shoe designer Stahn Smeet (Stan Smith) lived there too, along with his brother Pole Smeet, (Paul Smith) who wasn’t a renown designer, but a partner of Les Frères Smeet, two French guys who made T-shirts for people in LA. The duo had had a falling out with their third brother Weel Smeet (Will Smith) and now Weel (who of course didn’t star in movies) was last heard trying to change his name to Will Smet, in hopes of joining another French loser T-shirt line.
But others weren’t as lucky. Some celebs weren’t even people. Because of their mispronounced names, they’d been transformed into things, or expressions, even places. Jayke Gill-ehn-Hall (Jake Gyllenhaal) for example, was no longer an actor, but a dining hall where everyone on the island met to eat.
And there, the daily menu featured Œufs-manda Sifrède (Amanda Seyfried) who wasn’t an actress, but a breakfast, and for dinner, Chie-a la Boeuf (Shia LaBeouf) was served, which sounded kind of gross, and often needed to be gulped down with a distilled whiskey made locally from Brahd Peet (Brad Pitt).
The men all wore jeans sold at the German concept store Jeans Ach-Man (Gene Hackman) and the women often put their hair up in a bun wrapped together by a spoon, which they called a Reese With-hair spoon. (Reese Witherspoon)
Despite his or her various afflictions, everyone on the island seemed upbeat and fairly polite. When you crossed someone in the morning you would nod and say Wah Keen Phi Neeks (Joaquin Phoenix) to which the other would reply Ma-tyou Meu ka neu hi (Matthew McConaughey).The proper way to say thank you was Tome Uhnks (Tom Hanks) but you could also just say Uhnks, and the person would understand.
The island’s center of town was always bustling. If people weren’t hanging out and gossiping at Behn-Steel-Hair (Ben Stiller) the local coiffeur, they were exercising down at the Gym Carray (Jim Carrey) before hitting le Bar Ray-Felli (Bar Refaeli) which featured a once-a-week acoustic night and an awesome “Appi oweur” as the locals pronounced it.
In the evenings, most would pass their time playing Martine Score-Says( Martin Scorsese) an island version of “Simon Says”, where the head of the game (Martine Score) must wear fake heavy black eyebrows and give orders as if he were directing a boring Leonard DiCaprio film.
The leader of the island was Wood-ee ARAL-SON (Woody Harrelson) the balding progeny of mispronounced actors Elle-ee-jah WOOD (Elijah Wood) and Steeve Karalle (Steve Carell). Aral-Son’s office was located in the Mag-ee Gill-ehn-hall (Maggie Gyllenhaal) where he sat on the royal throne, the Daveed-Feen-Chair, (David Fincher) wearing a crown made of branches taken from an Olivia Wilde. (Olivia Wilde).
Those who broke laws were thrown into a prison called Ze Hobeet (The Hobbit) and repeat offenders were banished to the far off continent of Halayna Bonne-homme Car-terre (Helena Bonham Carter), which was known to be only inhabited by a rugby team calling themselves Team Beurre-ton (Tim Burton) whose plane crashed there in the 90’s.
Geographically, the island of mispronounced names was imposing. There were two mountains in the middle called the Colline Fair-ell (Colin Farrell) and the Colline Fairt, (Colin Firth) whose highest point was termed the Rosa Moond Peek. (Rosamund Pike) On clear days you could ski down to the other side of the island named the Kee-ahnu Rive (Keanu Reeves). But you probably wouldn’t want to stay there long. The inhabitants’ vocabulary is unfortunately limited to only four Keanu Reeves expressions – “Why are you here?” “Who are you?”, “Huh,” and “Whoah.”
All was peaceful until one day it was discovered there was a giant monster on the island called the Huge Jacques Man, (Hugh Jackman) a creature living in a large cave called the Adon Sand-Lair (Adam Sandler).
The mispronounced names were terrified, especially at night when they’d hear the Huge Jacques Man’s deep voice roaring random mispronounced names like Rod-jair Mooooooore, (Roger Moore) Julie-Anne Moooooooore (Julianne Moore) and Meek-ay Roooooooooour-que!!! (Mickey Rourke).
Once they realized the monster was too big for Ze Hobeet, (The Hobbit) it was decided everyone must choose Jood Lots (Jude Law) to decide who would kill it. Yet after further reflection, it was decided the actresses Chloë Sevigny, Cate Blanchette and Zooey Deschanel would go instead, only because their names were usually not mispronounced by the French, and the islanders were jealous of them and wanted them dead anyway. The actor Jon Favreau eventually was forced to join the trio.
The plan was for the four to climb Rosa Moond Peek (Rosamund Pike) in an old fashioned Nat-a lee Porte-Man (Nathalie Portman) then slay the monster by delivering a poisoned letter called a Mail Jippson, (Mel Gibson) that in reality, contained a poison called Bile Meure-hey, (Bill Murray) which if it comes into contact with the skin, can kill instantly; well not instantly, the victim will be Demi-mort, (Demi Moore) which some say is worse than being dead.
And the plan worked! The monster grabbed the envelope, touched the Bile and was Demi-mort in no time. The four actors high-fived each other, took the Steve Bus-Kemi (Steve Buscemi) home, and returned as conquering heroes, each receiving the Brees Dallas Award (Bryce Dallas Howard) for heroism which isn’t to be confused with the Ron Award, (Ron Howard) a prize given out for directors who make crappy message films.
Galvanized by their bravery, and since it was Christmas night, to say the least, Wood-ee ARAL-SON (Woody Harrelson) ordered everyone into his two sleighs, the Ket ween-sleigh (Kate Winslet) and the Behn-Keen-Sleigh, (Ben Kingsley) (driven by his flight assistant Krees-Tan Stoo-wart (Kristen Stewart). The sleighs flew through the snow at Mach Jacques-Obz (Marc Jacobs) speed, determined to find each mispronounced name a loving home that night.
And if you were on the ground that Christmas eve and were looking up at the stars, you might just see a silhouette of sleighs packed with mispronounced French freaks flying overhead. And before you could say Meet-Rhum-Nay! (Mitt Romney) a man with rosy cheeks resembling the actor from True Detective would shout down with a hearty Wah Keen Phi Neeks! (Joaquin Phoenix) and out would fly a mispronounced celeb for you to provide a loving and nurturing home for.
And before you could even say Tom Unhnks (Tom Hanks) or even Unhks for that matter, the man would shout Ahn-Att-o-Way! Ahn-Att-o-Way! (Anne Hathaway) and would soon be off again far away with only his weird Christmas greeting to other unlucky children echoing in the distance – “Ma-tyou Meu ka neu hi! Ma-tyou Meu ka neu hi! Ma-tyou Meu ka neu hi! (Matthew McConaughey, Matthew McConaughey, Matthew McConaughey)……….and to all, a bonne nuit!”
French version – click below