"A Thousand Words" (Paramount)
When Eddie Murphy was at the top of his career he could do no wrong; now on the downhill side of fame he can do no right. His problems seem to have started when he got the Oscar nomination for ìDreamgirls.î He didnít win and his career never seemed to recover because no role he had after that was of Oscar caliber. His latest film ìA Thousand Wordsî wonít win any awards but it isnít a terrible movie.
In this film Murphy plays Jack McCall, a literary agent who could sell anything to anyone with his gift of gab. He uses words to his advantage and to make his way in the world. The problem is he talks a lot but he doesnít say much. Still he has the love of his wife Caroline (Kerry Washington) and the admiration and respect of his assistant Aaron (Clark Duke).
One day he goes after the new book by a spiritual guru named Sinja (Cliff Curtis). He gives him his usual snow job, bragging on the book though he has never read it, and making promises about what he can do to insure its success. The next day a tree springs up in his yard and every time he speaks a leaf falls off the tree. It is one leaf per word. Sinja suggests that maybe when all the leaves have fallen off the tree it will die and so will Jack.
Jack immediately cuts back on his use of words and starts trying to figure out what he can do to reverse this curse. Meanwhile his business and his marriage are being affected by his lack of talking. Jack isnít able to communicate his problem effectively.
Murphy is great at portraying Jackís babble at the start of the film and his fear after the leaves drop. If it were any other comedian doing this he/she would get rave reviews. With Murphy it isnít even appreciated. He is acting his heart out but to no avail.
Opposite him Washington is limited in a stereotypical role. She is the upset wife and this role is beneath her talent. Allison Janney has a few good moments as Jackís boss. Curtis is also good as the guru. The one other acting highlight in the film is the performance by Clark Duke. He has some hilarious moments. This role is a big break for him, if anyone sees the movie.
The movie is a little bit overly crude with its profanity and humor which is the basis for the PG-13 rating.
Murphy is still one of the funniest men around, but he is becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of his generation by not getting any respect. It will take an amazing role in a super appreciated film to get his career back on course. Hereís hoping he makes it.
I scored "A Thousand Words" a mute 5 out of 10.
Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures
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