Making the Grades
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.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about A Thousand Words.
Is the saying “talk is cheap” true in this movie? What does Jack learn about the value of words? How does his experience with Dr. Sinja change the way he communicates? How does power appear to corrupt people?
What is the difference between telling someone you love them and showing them you do?
How does this movie portray women? How does Jack treat his wife? Do you agree with the attempts she makes to win him back?