What Happens When All the Leaves are Gone
Jack McCall (Eddie Murphy - Tower Heist) makes his living from talking, well talking authors in to signing up with the company he works for which promotes books. For Jack reading the book isn't important but getting the deal done, in fact much of Jack's life is about saying what ever is needed to get it done and not really paying much attention to others or what he is really saying. But after trying to fast talk a spiritual guru into signing with the company Jack finds a tree has suddenly grown in his garden. Initially bemused he discovers every word he utters causes a leaf to drop from the tree and when all the leaves are gone Jack fears he is going to die.
Making meaningful comedies, those which have a soul searching message are not the easiest of things to do going on previous attempts to do the same. And sadly whilst "A Thousand Words" isn't a bad comedy it is another addition to the list of misses which doesn't quite balance the comedy and meaning in a smooth manner. As such what you get in "A Thousand Words" is pretty much 80 minutes of comedy followed by 10 minutes of being deep and meaningful.
Now when it comes to choosing a comedian to star in a movie where they have to be silent you really couldn't choose better than Eddie Murphy and the movie plays to this fact right away with a witty opening scene. Now as I said, it feels like for the first 80 minutes what we get is comedy and as such you get some fast talking Eddie Murphy, some smart thinking Eddie Murphy as he tries to find ways to communicate with out talking and we get the facial clown with some wild eyes. In many ways it is classic Murphy, although the family friendly Eddie Murphy rather than the Eddie Murphy from the start of his career. We also get Clarke Duke delivering an entertaining performance as his assistant especially when Jack tells him to act like him during a book deal.
But then we get the 10 minutes of meaning and soul searching where Jack realises not so much what he has to do but with the leaves running out the significance of his words come home to him. Now you could say that "A Thousand Words" is simply about making us think about the words we say and not really meaning things but you could say the movie is about time and we shouldn't waste each leaf. You could also say it is about not holding on to the past and the things which make us negative. Basically there is some soul searching depth to the end of "A Thousand Words" and it works, it just doesn't really mix with the first 80 minutes of comedy.
What this all boils down to is that despite a disastrous release in the US and going direct-to-video in many other countries "A Thousand Words" is not a bad movie. But it is a case that for 80 minutes you have comedy with some trademark Eddie Murphy fast talking and then you get 10 minutes of meaning.