‘A Thousand Words’ Faces the Critics’ Wrath

Mike Krumboltz
Movie Talk

"A Thousand Words," the new Eddie Murphy comedy, is earning some choice words from critics. Among them: "misguided," "banal," and "trite." The movie, directed by "Norbit" auteur Brian Robbins, has been sitting on the shelf since 2008. It should have stayed there.

The film features Murphy as a literary agent who learns that when a magical tree loses its last leaf, he'll die. So, a man who once talked nonstop suddenly has to choose his words very carefully. Hilarity is supposed to ensue. Unfortunately, it doesn't.

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Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gives "A Thousand Words" one and a half stars out of four. "The poster art," Ebert writes, "shows Eddie Murphy with duct tape over his mouth, which as a promotional idea ranks right up there with Fred Astaire in leg irons."

Ebert's crosstown rival Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune is even harsher. Giving the movie one lonely star, Phillips criticizes a lot of things, including the "galling" product placement. Apparently Murphy's character looooooves Starbucks.

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The USA Today's Claudia Puig really goes for the jugular in her review. "The concept is unoriginal, the scenarios aren't funny, and its message is banal. Plus, Murphy alternately hams it up and phones it in." How does one overact and underact all in the same movie? Murphy finds a way.

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The always-entertaining Kyle Smith of the New York Post gives the movie one star out of four and writes, "Even 2003 Robin Williams would have thunked this script in the fireplace by page 50." It's "unfunny, derivative drivel," the Post writes. David Germain of the Associated Press wastes no words, calling it "a movie built on drivel."

And then came Variety. Critic Justin Chang really rips into "A Thousand Words." "A "tortured exercise in high-concept spiritualist hokum" with "kitsch and gay jokes," he writes. "The comedy feels as forced and flat-footed as the uplift." In Chang's estimation, the box office prospects look (shocker!) "none too fertile."

See the trailer to 'A Thousand Words':