The last movie I saw Eddie Murphy in was Tower Heist, which got mixed reviews but I enjoyed very much. The premise of A Thousand Words sounded a little strange – a man isn’t able to talk because his lifeline gets connected to a tree’s, and one leaf falls for every word he speaks – but I figured since Murphy is in it, A Thousand Words was bound to be funny. Unfortunately, there weren’t a ton of funny moments throughout it, although the message the movie gives is a nice one.
Jack McCall (Murphy) is a book agent who excels at convincing authors to sign with him. His boss, Samantha (Allison Janney, The Help) wants him to sign Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis, Colombiana), a guru of sorts who is extremely popular and who has written a book. Jack goes to talk with Dr. Sinja, and bruises his hand on a tree there; the next day, mysteriously, that exact same tree pops up in his backyard. Every time Jack says a word, a leaf falls from the tree, and Sinja hypothesizes that when the tree dies, Jack will too. For a man whose livelihood depends on his capacity to speak, this is in itself a death sentence, and Jack must find creative ways to communicate without actually using words.
The supporting cast was good in this movie but were sorely underused, especially Janney as Jack’s boss and Kerry Washington (For Colored Girls) as his wife. Clark Duke (TV’s Greek) has a funny role as a junior agent working for Jack, and he is one of the best parts of the movie. Eddie Murphy does his best here but doesn’t have much to work with; although the beginning of the movie is quite intriguing, the premise shows itself to be full of holes once the film actually gets rolling, and the script is just so-so as well.
Maybe see this film. It’s not an awful pick for a matinée, but for some reason it seemed to stretch a lot longer than its 91 minute runtime. The message in the film – that you should value your family and your life, and not neglect them – is a good one, and Murphy’s character does learn its lesson, but the movie had a lot of unanswered questions, in my opinion. We all can figure out why the tree appeared – because Jack needed to learn a lesson – but it’s never really explained HOW it got there, whether by a divine force or by Dr. Sinja, though he claims to know nothing about it. A Thousand Words needed to fix these holes but did not; perhaps if it did, it would get a higher rating from me.
A Thousand Words is currently in theaters, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 91 minutes.
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5