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A Thousand Words

Director: Brian Robbins
Release Date: March 9, 2012
Running Time: 91 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Editor's Rating: ** out of 4 stars

Jack McCall is a successful fast-talking literary agent who has worked his way up by telling people just what they want to hear. He prides himself on being able to “talk anyone into anything.” However, his smooth talking ability is quickly put to the test when he tries to land the ungettable get: publishing the memoirs of a famous self-help guru Dr Sinja (Cliff Curtis).

In his zeal to do his job, Jack visits Dr Sinja at the Dr.’s retreat and Jack inadvertently becomes ‘one’ with a Bodhi tree, which is located on the property. The Bodhi Tree holds a powerful ability. Little does Jack know, but soon finds out, that he has been cursed through his interaction with the tree: he has only 1000 words remaining before his life ends and it is the tree that holds the key to his future.

Jack keeps true to his workaholic form and tries to overcome the curse and bring Dr Sinja’s book to fruition; much to the dismay of his unappreciated wife, Caroline (Kerry Washington) and loyal Executive Assistant, Aaron (Clark Duke). Having to painstakingly and strategically use each word before speaking is a brutal task. Try the game with yourself; how productive could you be with such a major restriction on communication? How would you cope or improvise? Jack has the obvious struggles and the movie falls into many slapstick moments as he attempts to navigate himself out of his dire strait.

There is obviously a lesson Jack is supposed to learn through his experience with the Bodhi tree, the problem with A Thousand Words is that the lesson has many layers and none of them are explored enough to develop a good storyline. There are surprising tender moments between he and his mother (played by Ruby Dee) and integral parts of Jack’s past is revealed, but not explored on. Murphy’s scenes with Kerry Washington (Caroline) are uncomfortable. I’m not sure if it was chemistry or the storyline, or both. The most disappointing is Jack’s interaction (or lack thereof) with Dr Sinja, considering the whole plot began with Jack’s interaction with a tree that was on his property. Dr Sinja’s presence in the film should have been more prominent.

The most promising interactions are between Murphy and Clark Duke. Duke’s portrayal as Jack’s suffering, but extremely loyal assistant are enjoyable and produce good laugh out loud moments.

A Thousand Words is not Eddie Murphy’s finest achievement. It’s an amusing work, which by its premise has promise, but the script falls short and not even Murphy and his immense talent can rescue it.

I viewed this film via theatrical release with a privately purchased ticket.

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