A picture may be worth a thousand words. But is A Thousand Words worth a picture? A motion-picture that is—does the idea of Eddie Murphy mastering ad hoc sign language so that he won’t die really warrant a full length feature film? Hard to say.
Murphy plays Jack McCaw, a loudmouthed swindler who, as the trailer below puts it, will “say anything to get what he wants.” Inevitably, he takes this habit too far, crossing a mystical author (Cliff Curtis) who decides to teach the man a lesson: he “connects” McCaw’s soul to a magical tree—stay with me—in that everytime McCaw speaks a word, one of the leaves falls. When the tree is completely barren, it is suggested that McCaw will die. So, he shuts up.
The way I see it, A Thousand Words is pretty much Liar, Liar…only, instead of the heartfelt unreliable-but-loving father/constantly disappointed son story, there’s a tree. But who knows? As people have been saying about a whole bunch of things for a few weeks now, this could be Murphy’s big comedic reboot. Alongside the actor are the terrific Kerry Washington and the comedically adroit Clark Duke. And aside from the trailer banking heavily on Duke in the “Isn’t it funny when dorky Jewish guys do immitations of slang-talking black guys?” shtick that far too many movies seem to propagate, both of these actors are good things to bet on.
Of course, the most important aspect to a comedy wherein the lead character is barred from speaking: physical comedy. If you are a fan of it, this movie might very well be something you’ll enjoy. If not, then maybe you can focus on the ecological subtexts: save the tree(s)…or we’ll die. Stay green, Murphy.