Jack McCall (Eddie Murphy) likes to lie his way through life. McCall works as a successful literary agent, and Jack is a master of his craft. He’s cocky, confident, and a great talker, but McCall’s meeting with a potential client could change his life. Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis) is a New Age guru, he’s the flavor of the month, and McCall wants to sign him to a deal, that will publish his new book. Jack is able to persuade Dr. Sinja, and a handshake officially closes the deal.
Although, Jack’s glorious moment doesn’t last too long, and his brief interaction with a magical Bodhi tree could be deadly. Jack suffers a lethal curse, when his blood stains the tree, and after his meeting with Dr. Sinja, this same tree appears in his backyard. The Bodhi tree contains 1,000 leaves, and the leaves share a bond with Jack’s most valuable weapon: his words. The tree will lose a leaf for every word Jack speaks, and when the tree runs out of leaves, Jack dies. Jack will have to choose his words carefully. He needs to communicate with his wife and the mother of his child. Caroline (Kerry Washington) is frustrated with Jack’s ego and behavior, and Jack’s voice is an essential tool for his job. Jack must work with Dr. Sinja, if he wants to save his life, because the magical tree continues to lose leaves at a quick pace, and Jack is running out of words.
The studios wanted to capitalize off of Murphy’s success in Tower Heist, and they saw an opportunity with A Thousand Words. Well, their little get-rich-quick scheme failed miserably, because A Thousand Words was an embarrassing box office flop.
I wanted to believe in a comeback run for Eddie Murphy, and Tower Heist did give me some hope, but this film might derail any successful future plans for Murphy‘s film career, because A Thousand Words just reminded me of Murphy’s LONG streak of awful films (the vast majority of his work over the past eighteen years). “THIS is why I try to avoid anything with Eddie Murphy now a days.” This is how I felt during this film, and A Thousand Words will only bring back some painful memories for any Eddie Murphy fan.
This film was shot in 2008, so you have to expect some dated material, when it comes to the jokes. For the most part, the 2008 material didn’t annoy me too much, but the “Lollipop” ringtone drove me nuts. Jack’s cell phone is a crucial tool for his job, and he uses Lil Wayne’s Lollipop as a ringtone (Tha Carter III was released in 2008). Yeah, I get it. McCall is supposed to be this cooperate businessman, but he uses a rapper’s song as a ringtone. They tried to force some laughs out of the audience with the Lollipop ringtone, but this wasn’t funny, and I couldn’t laugh. Using this ringtone ONE time for some cheap laughs might’ve worked, but they really ran the Lollipop ringtone gag into the ground here.
Also, DO NOT BELIEVE THE TRAILERS FOR THIS FILM. Dr. Sinja is the man, who cursed Jack McCall with the magical tree. This is what the trailers want you to believe, but this doesn’t happen in the film.
McCall touches the magical tree, while visiting Dr. Sinja. Jack accidentally cuts himself on the tree, and his bloodstain fuels the curse. The magical tree mysteriously appears in Jack’s backyard, and he immediately accuses Dr. Sinja….but Sinja didn’t send the tree to McCall’s house? That’s right. Sinja didn’t send the tree to Jack’s house, and he didn’t place the curse on him. Sinja is innocent. Still, he does offer his help, and Sinja promises to find some answers.
You know something, Sinja sending the tree to Jack’s house would’ve made a lot more sense. After all, McCall is a habitual liar, who needs to be taught a lesson, and Sinja is a spiritual guru. They could’ve made a “Sonja cursed McCall” storyline work, and this would’ve been more believable than what actually happened in the film. A nice sized tree just randomly appears in Jack’s backyard with no real explanation? Are you serious? The magical tree’s journey to Jack’s backyard felt so incredibly far fetched and silly, and the Bodhi tree’s sudden appearance in Jack’s backyard did bring a laugh out of me, but not for good reasons, though.
The trailers for A Thousand Words are VERY misleading, and you really shouldn’t buy into the “Dr. Sinja cursed Jack McCall” stuff.
Eddie Murphy’s voice IS his greatest asset, and Eddie Murphy can be funny, if you give him a chance to talk, but the screenplay for A Thousand Words takes Murphy‘s best weapon away from him. You have to watch Murphy’s character play a very long and tiresome game of charades in this film, and his silent act just drove me nuts. After he learns about the serious nature of the curse, Murphy’s character does speak a few words here and there, but for the most part, Murphy doesn’t have any major dialogue after the curse begins take its effects. The Jack McCall character had some real potential, as the fast-talking and cocky literary agent, and Murphy was the PERFECT choice for this character. He could’ve easily pulled off another enjoyable and hilarious performance in this one, but A Thousand Words really dropped the ball with the “HE’LL DIE, IF HE TALKS TOO MUCH!“ stuff.
The acting in this film really isn’t bad at all, but still, A Thousand Words is a pretty awful film. A Thousand Words features a very formulaic story, and this film painfully goes through the motions the entire time. Murphy’s character needed closure. He had to let go of the past, he needed to reconnect with his family, and he eventually realizes what’s most important in life. But did Jack McCall really need a magical tree to figure all of this out? This is the big question I asked myself at the end of the film, because I couldn’t ignore A Thousand Words’ silly screenplay. This film is unfunny, predictable, and the REAL premise is incredibly stupid.
Also, Kerry Washington can be a very solid actress most of the time, but her talents are wasted in this film. Washington portrays the typical whiny housewife, who wants change, and her character can be annoying at times. I also like Clark Duke. He can be a funny guy sometimes, but he tried way too hard in this one. For some asinine reason, Clark’s character decides to develop this cocky hip hop persona during a business meeting. Aaron Wisenberger (Duke) has to fill in for McCall during this meeting, he wants to make an impression, and the hip hop persona was his best idea? Clark’s transformation in this scene might’ve worked for some people, but the “cool hip hop guy” couldn’t pull any laughs out of me.
And I really don’t want to see another Eddie Murphy/Brian Robbins collaboration. Robbins was the director for this film, and he also directed Norbit and Meet Dave. Both of these films also starred Murphy, and these two really don’t go well together. They’ve produced three atrocious films as a duo, and I hope they never feel the urge to work together again, because the final product will be something horrendous.
A Thousand Words wastes talent in the worst way, and this film is a waste of time. Tower Heist almost gave Eddie Murphy’s career a much needed boost, but A Thousand Words will just throw him right back into that deep hole of shit, he’s been in for years.
Final Rating: 1/10