Zach Braff's Horrifying Voice-Over Work

Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 5 2009 3:28 PM

Zach Braff's Horrifying Voice-Over Work

In his epic 2006 broadside, " Why I Hate Zach Braff ," Slate 's Josh Levin made a desperate plea: "If Zach Braff is the voice of my generation , can't someone please crush his larynx?"

No such luck, Josh! In fact, although Braff's acting career seems to have stalled out in the past few years, we're now confronted at every turn by his intact larynx. Braff's voiceover work can currently be heard in two TV ad campaigns, one for PUR water filters and the other for Cottonelle toilet paper.

The celebrity voice-over craze is among the major advertising trends of the 2000s . For the most part, these star VOs have been subtle and professional. (Much of America likely doesn't even realize, for instance, that Jeff Bridges is the voice of Duracell and Hyundai or that Gene Hackman is the voice of Lowe's.) Braff's vocal performances, however—particularly in these Cottonelle ads—are so over-the-top annoying that they call attention to themselves. Not good attention.

Listen to Braff's supremely irritating take on the Cottonelle puppy. I recognize that the ad is meant to play on the viewer's soft spot for adorable house pets. But images of the puppy do that well enough. There's no need to have Braff hammily voicing the canine thought process.

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Never has adorableness sounded so effortful. Never have an adult male's vocal cords issued so many cutesy sing-songs and plush purrs. Everything I dislike about the schmaltzy, doofus-y Braff seems to have been compressed into this single 30-second performance.

I also can't understand what possessed PUR to settle on Braff as the voice of water itself . Wouldn't water's personality be calm, centered, ancient, and powerful? Braff's vocal work here sounds bouncy, insecure, and less like a big dog than ... a puppy.

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Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

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