Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Thousand Words

Life is a Journey

Rated: PG-13 Sexual situations, language, dialogue and some drug-related humor.
Release Date: March 9, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 31 mins

Director:  Brian Robbins
Writers: Steve Koren
Cast:  Eddie Murphy, Kerry Washington, Cliff Curtis, Clark Duke, Allison Janney

SYNOPSIS: Literary agent Jack McCall uses his bravado and big mouth to wheel and deal. After stretching the truth on a deal with a spiritual guide, Jack is confronted with the sudden appearance of a Bodhi tree on his property that drops a leaf with every word Jack utters.

REVIEW: Brian Robbins, a frequent directing force behind such Eddie Murphy films as Norbit and Meet Dave, teams up with longtime comedy writer Steve Koren known for Bruce Almighty, Click and A Night at the Roxbury for the latest Eddie Murphy off-beat comedy. This this outing, Eddie Murphy's character has "1000 words left to discover what matters most". I wonder if he will succeed before the last leaf falls?
Apogee literary agent Jack McCall (Eddie Murphy, Tower Heist) goes through life trying to land the big deals using fast talking and saying whatever he needs to. Living in a slick, glass bachelor pad with a manicured lawn and open pool on a cliff overlooking the city. Wife Caroline (Kerry Washington, The Last King of Scotland) is forced to change the diaper of their son on the kitchen counter and just wishes that Jack would put their lives ahead of his life. Meanwhile, Jack looks to land the manuscript from spiritual guru Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis, Colombiana), assuring Sinja that he will do whatever it takes to spread the word that is contained in his written work. While doing do, Jack is poked by a splinter on the trunk of a Bodhi tree. After Jack receives a five-page pamphlet instead of a brilliant self-help book, he confronts Sinja - to no avail. Afterward, at home, the same Bodhi tree suddenly appears in his backyard. After he touches the tree and speaks, a leaf starts falling off the tree for each word Jack utters. As more and more leaves fall, Jack becomes weaker and more sickly. Sinja realizes that Jack now shares a symbiotic relationship with the tree, and should focus his efforts on understanding how to find the truth within himself and spend less time chattering away with empty words.

Eddie Murphy has almost become synonymous with off-beat comedies that focus on self-discovery and enlightenment with films like Daddy Day Care, Imagine That, and the first two Doctor Dolittle movies. And with Click writer Koren in writing duties, we come close to getting a film with much of the same tone, if not the same manic quality that Sandler brought to bear. Luckily, Murphy also has the Shrek movies and the most recent Tower Heist to balance out his work. In A Thousand Words Murphy falls back on his extensive 'mugging' talents, his character forced to act out his requests and come up with creative ways that do not cross the rules of the karmic cosmos. McCall cannot even write any words down to communicate without causing leaves to fall off the tree since writing down words would be too easy a way to dialogue.

Murphy's expressiveness and the silly situations he finds himself in at home, work and around time supplies audible laughs for the film. Joined with his trusty assistant Aaron Wiseberger (Clark Duke, Hot Tub Time Machine), Murphy's McCall gets himself as much trouble as he gets out of. Cliff Curtis shows his versatility by playing the quiet and reserved spiritual leader Sinja, trusting that truth will set McCall free before the last leaf falls. But the laughs and smiles are tempered with more deep rooted (pun intended) issues that McCall needs to face and address, including the issues with his wife, the approval he needs to be acknowledged for by an Alzheimer's-ridden mother Annie (Ruby Dee, American Gangster) who mistakes Jack for his own father each time he visits her.

A Thousand Words is not for all audiences. Not that the film is not good - I was pleasantly surprised. People looking for continuous over-the-top Eddie Murphy hilarity will be somewhat disappointed. Although humor abounds, the film is a balance of silly and serious. Unlike Click and Imagine That, A Thousand Words should appeal to and satisfy a more adult moviegoing crowd. Without the inclusion of a precocious child, the story is still light but with a more mature slant.

As each leaf falls from the Bodhi tree and its branches become more barren, Jack McCall's inconvenient audible situation becomes more dire. Full of silent expressions, charades-style dialogue, and handy props to aid him, Eddie Murphy makes a dramedy that delights and enlightens, all along the journey's road that is our lives.

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

1 comment:

  1. This movie puts to rest any idea of Eddie Murphy having a come-back and should have just stayed on the shelf like it's been doing for the past 4 years. As you can tell, I did not enjoy myself while watching this flick. Good review Chuck. Check out mine when you get the chance.