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Still shot from the movie: A Thousand Words.

A Thousand Words

Jack McCall (Eddie Murphy) is a man with a golden tongue. But his words are about to cost him. After he lies to Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis), the guru connects each of Jack's utterances with a leaf on a magic tree -- with fatal consequences when the last one falls. Get the movie review and more. »


Overall: C- 1.5
Violence: B
Sexual Content: C+
Language: D+
Drugs/Alcohol: C
Run Time: 91
Theater Release: 09 Mar 2012
Video Release: 26 Jun 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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A picture might be worth a thousand words but this picture isn’t worth the price of admission. Given society’s aversion to silence, the problem of verbal barrages is a great concept, especially when the chatter in this story also includes a fair amount of fabrication. But instead, the over-the-top script may leave too many viewers feeling speechless.

For one thing, the movie tries too hard to cram comedy (much of which relies on crass anatomical terms or sexually charged innuendo) and a sentimental spiritual message into a mere 90 minutes. To keep audience’s emotions in tune with the quickly changing mood of the film requires a heavy-handed musical score and meditative hallucinations.

At the helm of the story is Jack McCall (Eddie Murphy), a literary agent with an aversion to reading but a gift of gab. More than just a talent for twittering, he’s an overtalking tyrant who bullies people with his banal banter. However all the blathering comes to a stop when Jack meets Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis), a spiritualist who warns him about the power of words. Almost immediately a full-grown tree sprouts in Jack’s backyard and with each utterance he makes, one leaf falls off. To avoid a seemingly inevitable death, Jack zips his lips.

With Murphy’s tongue tied, the film resorts to exaggerated clowning for the camera and sight gags, one of which involves a woman (Kerry Washington) wearing a skimpy leather outfit and carrying handcuffs. Jack’s silence also intrigues a bulbous-bellied male who appears to be for hire and completely unnerves his assistant (Clark Duke) who feels compelled to confess all kinds of lewd behaviors when his boss remains tightlipped.

Although talk is cheap if one’s actions don’t shore up what’s being said, the final sugary scenes of this movie feel forced at best. Coming to terms with his past and recognizing his reliance on endless prattle may give Jack a better bridle on his tongue but his heart still doesn’t seem to be in his words.

A Thousand Words is rated PG-13: for sexual situations including dialogue, language and some drug-related humor.

Director: Brian Robbins
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Cliff Curtis, Kerry Washington, Clark Duke
Studio: 2012 DreamWorks
Website: Official site for A Thousand Words.

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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