It's all gone a bit downhill for Eddie Murphy in the last few years. But he was quite good in Tower Heist since he cut out all the silliness. Perhaps a meaningful comedy drama could be what he needs to get back in the swing of things. Or maybe not.
Murphy plays Jack McCall, a literary agent who likes to talk a lot and be an asshole most of the time. He doesn't have time for anyone but himself, unless he can use another person to gain more success. So when he tries to coax a book deal out of a popular self help guru, said guru magically curses him by... making a tree grow in Jack's garden? But wait, this isn't just any tree. Every time Jack says a word, a leaf falls off the tree, and the hypothesis is that when the tree runs out of leaves Jack dies, because they're connected in some spiritual plane obviously. So, with running his mouth off no longer an option, it's time for Jack to reevaluate what's important in his life, and set things straight before it's too late.
Well, that's what we assume anyway. The explanation of the plot is flimsy at best. Sure, we have a magical tree in a garden that's definitely losing its leaves, but the guy who apparently made it appear seems to be pulling the rest of the rules out of his butt. He guesses Jack will die if he talks too much, but doesn't give any kind of indication as to what Jack can do to set it all straight. In fact, by making him far less able to talk, he manages to almsot screw up Jack's life completely. Imagine trying to do your job and communicate with your wife when you only have a thousand words left until your death. It's not going to go smoothly, and it certainly doesn't for Jack. In fact, the whole tree concept gets more in the way and does more damage than Jack's ego did in the first place. If a tree popped up in his garden saying "Stop being a dick" it would have been far more effective.
So yes, a very flimsy plot. But surprisingly there are a few good actors in this thing. We have Alison Janney in a bit part for some reason, not to mention Eddie Murphy. Clark Duke is there too, in one of his first film roles, but he's probably the most likeable character of the bunch, although that's not saying much. Sure, Murphy isn't prancing around in a fat suit, he actually does some acting, but most of the movie is spent watching him gurning and making weird animal noises in an attempt to be understood. It just doesn't seem like a particularly well cast role. Still, the performances are probably what save A Thousand Words from being completely awful. It's still bad, but if they had a bunch of worse actors it would have been a whole lot worse.
My rating: 2/5