Review: A Thousand Words

Eddie Murphy has had a lot of interesting roles in his time.  Most of them were in one movie.  A Thousand Words is his newest comedy from Steve Koren (writer) and Tom Shadyack (director) of Bruce Almighty fame.  While not as hilarious as Bruce, It’s still a very good movie.  The comedy in the film is somewhat lost in the tension of the situation, but the story is very interesting and pays off, finally after a painful but entertaining character journey.

Murphy plays Jack McCall, a fast talking agent who’s used to getting everything on his terms.  He fits his wife and son in where it’s convenient and conquers his world by signing anyone who can build his personal empire.  High on his own esteem, he sets off to sign a new age spiritual leader to sell his book, based solely on his large number of followers.  When he talks his way into a deal, a mysterious tree grows in his yard over night that turns out to be connected to him.

He soon discovers that every word he speaks causes a tree to fall and that once the tree dies he will too as everything that happens to the tree also happens to him.  Jack struggles to refrain from speech and focus his thoughts into simple terms, resulting in anger and occasional outbursts that bring him ever closer to his looming fate.  Meanwhile, his family and career fall apart and he is helpless to stop it.

Ultimately, Jack’s efforts to save himself fail, but he eventually reaches an understanding of the guru’s philosophy and why he is so troubled.  In confronting his past and releasing the anger he holds onto, a transformation occurs within and he experiences a sort of rebirth along with the tree which bursts into full bloom.

It’s not a side-splitting comedy, but it never fails to be interesting and the heart of the movie is really quite touching.  Eddie Murphy effortlessly leads the film which is boosted by an exceptionally talented cast of minor characters.  It’s definitely a feel good movie with a redemptive message, like Bruce Almighty, and the story is well honed and crafted even if it falls short on laughs. A