Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Movie Review & Trailer : A Thousand Words

I think A Thousand Words has a mouthful of problems, and there’s one issue in particular that it maybe can’t ever shake. The movie has half of a heart, which is about the worst percentage possible for a comedy movie. If it cared about the feelings of its characters less, A Thousand Words might actually be funny. If it cared about them a little more, we might actually get invested in their lives. Unfortunately, its partially formed organ prevents any of that from happening, as it gushes between generic, acceptable one-liners and shoehorned-in moralizations about family values. 

Distributor: DreamWorks Distribution, DreamWorks SKG, Paramount Pictures
Release Date:  2012-03-09
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Cliff Curtis, Kerry Washington
Directed by: Brian Robbins
Produced by: Nicolas Cage, Alain Chabat, Stephanie Danan, Norman Golightly, Brian Robbins, Sharla Sumpter
Written by: Steve Koren
Visit this film's Official Website

With a successful comedies can either be absurd or realistic, and they can populate their worlds with uproarious characters or humorous human beings. Which it chooses doesn’t really matter, it just needs to pick one. This movie never bothers to make that decision. Every time it seems poised to present its main character as a contemptible monster, it pulls back and lets him visit his mom or play with his son. Every time it presents its second lead as a sympathetic underdog, it forces him to do something outlandish, like admit to having role play animal sex in his boss’ office. The result is some strange hybrid of people you’d never actually meet nor want to watch.

It would be easy to point the finger here and say this film should never have been made, but there are a lot of great comedies with unbelievable, borderline stupid premises. A Thousand Words follows a fast-talking agent named Jack McCall (Eddie Murphy) who winds up with a new tree in his backyard after a manipulative encounter with a self-help guru (Cliff Curtis). The former soon realizes the perennial is a kind of strange adumbration of his inner self that sheds leaves every time he speaks. To prolong his life, he employs the help of his assistant (Clark Duke) and tries to carry on by communicating through hand gestures. The basic idea has a goofy, Groundhog Day feel to it, which would be fine if the execution was even a fraction as good.

The movie is rife with contrived moments like that, which would be fine if it didn't then overcompensate to suddenly try and make it all seem human. In the midst of his fiasco, our protagonist watches his marriage crumble, his job go up in smoke and his mother continue to descend into dementia. It’s ping pong at its finest and filmmaking at its most confounding. 

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