Eddie Murphy plays Jack McCall, a fast-talking, literary agent who can talk his way out of anything. He makes a deal with a spiritual guru, Sinja (Cliff Curtis), to get his book published. Jack doesn’t exactly agree to this deal truthfully like he always seems to do. After making this deal with Sinja, a tree magically grows in his back yard. The tree is connected with Jack, every time he says a word a leaf falls off the tree. This means when all the leaves fall off the tree the tree will die, as will Jack. So Jack now has to find out a way to keep the leaves from falling off this tree as well as keep everything in his life the way he wants it without saying a word.
This movie was made back in 2008 but was shelved until earlier this year. Many people have complained about this movie because it has outdated jokes and that made the movie bad for them. It’s not that the jokes are outdated that makes it bad, it’s that the jokes are not funny. One of the greatest strengths of Eddie Murphy is his voice. When you take that away from him for essentially the whole movie that doesn’t bode well for you.
The jokes aren’t the only thing that make this movie bad. For one the acting here just isn’t very redeemable. I’ll give it to Murphy that he is trying somewhat but we all know that he can do better. He gets no help from the supporting cast either. Clark Duke, who plays Murphy’s assistant, is the only one who tries to make the best from his character. Veteran actors like Cliff Curtis, Kerry Washington and even Allison Janney all are just going through the motions and none of them seem like they want to be there.
Close to the end of the movie there is a shift in the movie’s tone that doesn’t work because you can’t go from a slapstick comedy to a drama. Things start to get very sentimental towards the end of the movie but it doesn’t work because it doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie. Had this been somewhat dramatic from the beginning then it would have made more sense to do but in the end it just feels like messy writing. I will say that I did enjoy the dramatic parts more than the comedy bits but by the time it got around to it, it was too late. This probably would have worked better as more of a dramatic movie, which is what I thought it was going to be when I first heard about it.
A Thousand Words has an interesting premise but it ultimately doesn’t succeed because of unfunny jokes, below average acting and a change in tone that isn’t needed.