A Thousand Words

A Thousand Words

Directed by Brian Robbins. Starring Eddie Murphy, Kerry Washington, Allison Janney, Clark Duke, Cliff Curtis. (2012, PG-13, 91 min.)

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., March 16, 2012

If A Thousand Words’ formula seems familiar, that’s because writer Steve Koren has tripped down this quasi-metaphysical path before in Bruce Almighty and Click. In brief: Clueless guy meets magical/mystical/religious force. Antics ensue, followed by a dark night of the soul and finally salvation. Here, the clueless guy is Eddie Murphy’s Jack McCall, a fast-talking Hollywood literary agent trying to sign a spiritual guru named Dr. Sinja (Curtis). Jack lies through his teeth to land the client, which is generally not something you should do to a holy man, especially when there’s a vengeful Bodhi tree nearby with which to make an accidental blood pact. Or something. Jack’s fate becomes linked with the tree’s. For every word he says, the tree loses a leaf; every leaf the tree loses, Jack comes closer to life’s end. A thousand leaves equals a thousand words, then it’s curtains for Jack. The idea of Murphy, that famously motormouthed actor, suddenly tongue-tied is not a punchy enough punch line to carry a whole film, and Koren’s insubstantial comic set-pieces, perfunctorily staged by Murphy’s Norbit director Brian Robbins, overly rely on the audience’s fondness (mostly absent) for Murphy’s elastic-faced overemoting. But the film’s ungainly transition from yuk-yuk comedy to chest-beating drama works in Murphy’s favor. As his Jack quiets, so does the actor, and it becomes easier to hear the film’s ham-fisted but not unworthy message about the path to inner peace.

More Brian Robbins Films
Meet Dave
Eddie Murphy reteams with his Norbit director for this new extraterrestrial comedy in which miniature aliens operate a spaceship that has a human form.

Marjorie Baumgarten, July 18, 2008

The three personas Eddie Murphy adopts in this film literally fill the screen, but the script doesn't serve his multidimensional talents.

Steve Davis, Feb. 9, 2007

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A Thousand Words, Brian Robbins, Eddie Murphy, Kerry Washington, Allison Janney, Clark Duke, Cliff Curtis

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