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A Thousand Words' and zero laughs

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Clumsy comedy has little to offer

Remember when Eddie Murphy used to be funny?

The past few months have heard rumblings that maybe Eddie was on his way back he'd shown us a little of the old razzle dazzle in 'Tower Heist;' he was set to host the Oscars but then the movie went nowhere and Brett Ratner's homophobic slurring took care of the hosting gig and the talk of Eddie's return sort of disappeared.

'A Thousand Words,' Murphy's latest, is indicative of the kind of dreck to which he has exposed audiences over the past couple of decades.

Murphy is Jack McCall, a smooth-talking literary agent who prides himself on being able to talk anyone into anything. However, his selfish attitude is creating conflict with his family, particularly his wife Caroline (Kerry Washington, 'For Colored Girls').

Everything changes when Jack tries to land mystic guru Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis, 'Colombiana') as a client. After the deal is struck, Jack discovers a massive Bodhi tree has suddenly appeared in his backyard. With every word that Jack speaks, a leaf falls from the tree. Dr. Sinja tells him that when the last leaf falls from the tree, he will die.

Jack, with the help of his assistant Aaron (Clark Duke, 'Hot Tub Time Machine'), tries to navigate his life without words. However, as you might expect, things don't go smoothly and Jack watches as both his personal and professional lives rapidly fall apart in a manner that one can only assume is intended to be hilarious. It's a race to see if Jack can keep it together until Dr. Sinja or somebody can find the answer.

Let's be clear this movie is not funny. It's like a 90 minute anti-joke. Or maybe a prank that Hollywood felt like playing on the viewing public. Seriously, you're going to make a movie built entirely around the premise of taking away Eddie Murphy's greatest comedic weapon his mouth? Watching Murphy mug, twitch, grunt and squirm his way across the screen for what seems like an eternity is not my idea of a good time.

In addition, while Duke and Curtis are okay, the rest of the supporting cast does very little to make any of it better. Of course, you could surround Murphy with a cadre of Oscar winners and it wouldn't save this steamer.

This movie was actually filmed in 2008 for a 2009 release, but due to studio complications, it was shelved. Who knew one could long for even longer, more protracted studio negotiations? It would have almost been worth it to keep this sad, unfunny misfire from ever seeing the light of day.

'A Thousand Words' is the worst kind of film. Not only is it terrible, but it manages to mine terrible from a really interesting concept and an ostensibly talented lead. If you're looking for an unfunny comedy featuring the sad shadow of someone who used to be brilliant, check this movie out. Otherwise, just walk away and never look back.

1 out of 5


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