Review: A Thousand Words

daniel cohen reviews the latest from eddie murphy, and it ain’t pretty …

Plot: After trying to sign a spiritual guru (Cliff Curtis) as his next client, literary agent Jack McCall (Eddie Murphy) gets some bad karma when a mystical tree suddenly shows up in his backyard, where the leaves represent how many words he has left to speak, as going beyond that number could result in his death.

I don’t know if Eddie Murphy has a bad agent, or he just takes the big pay check, or he actually believes his projects are good, but whatever the reason, the result is the same: a bad movie. I still believe Eddie Murphy is extraordinarily talented, and he’s not even bad in this movie. It’s just that this film is so atrocious, that no actor could have made it work. Aside from this being another run of the mill crappy Eddie Murphy movie, it commits my number 1 comedy sin: the dramedy.

I hate the word dramedy. I think it’s the most dreaded anagram there is, even worse than ‘Bennifer’ or ‘Brangelina.’ It very rarely works, and 99.9% of the time, it’s just uneven and half-assed. The first hour of this is a mere dreadful comedy. We get pratfalls, poor writing, and jokes that are so predictable, that it makes me want to spit on the grave of whoever invented comedy. There’s a scene in here at a Starbucks where Eddie Murphy’s character Jack McCall (a cutthroat book agent) wants to gets his latte, but uh-oh, the line is to long. What does he do? Take a guess. Come on! Yeah, he fakes a phone call that his wife is in labor, and everybody lets him go in front of him. You can’t see it because this is a written review, but I’m banging my head against the desk.

They also desperately try and go for cheap laughs, but can’t even succeed there. So this tree is connected to Jack in this very literal way. For example, they spray the tree with a sprinkler while Jack is in a business meeting, and Jack starts to get wet and sweat. Get it? Haha. The one scene that was sort of clever is when Jack has to use all these talking toy dolls on the phone because he can’t talk. That was alright.

Now I established that the comedy is poor, but let’s get back to the real reason this movie actually made me prefer that Murphy had just made Nutty Professor 3 instead. The last act gets full on dramatic. I get that some films don’t just want to be an action movie, or just a drama, and sometimes you want to mix genres. hat’s fine, but the problem with most dramedies is that the first half is so damn silly, there’s just no way that I’m going to take you seriously when you want to shift into serious mode.Some comedies can pull it off. Groundhog Day is a good example of this. It’s a comedy, but also touches on some deep character stuff, but it never went to far like this film did. Not only does this get serious, it gets artsy too, like it’s trying to be the Tree of Life. I’m not even kidding. It was embarrassing! They have these flashback scenes of Jack as a kid, and the acting is just horrendous. I’ll give Murphy credit, because he can pull off drama, but it’s just stupid here.

This movie had one saving grace: Clark Duke (pictured above). For those who don’t know, Duke was in such films as Hot Tub Time Machine and Kick-Ass. He’s becoming a funny young actor, and he really does shine here as Jack’s meek assistant. He gave me some good chuckles, so I definitely want to see this guy in better films.

I really have nothing else to say about this movie. It’s boring, it’s uneven, the editing gets choppy in the ‘artsy’ moments, and the score was probably played on some dusty cassette tape labeled ‘crappy generic comedy music.’ I would love for Eddie Murphy to give us one more great comedy, but at this point, it’s like beating a dead horse. It’s just not going to happen.

Rating: 3.5 out of 10 (Atrocious)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.