Movie Review - A Thousand Words

It opens with a strong image. Eddie Murphy has his mouth taped shut. Murphy isn't a mime. Nor is he Jean Dujardin. Murphy needs his mouth in order to make people laugh and considering his success with the Shrek movies, his voice and his laugh have become quite iconic. This opening image though sets the stage for Murphy to try to be funny without having to speak.

Eddie Murphy plays Jack McCall, a literary agent who is trying to sign the rights to Dr. Sinja's new book. Sinja, played by Cliff Curtis (Whale Rider and Sunshine), is a very popular motivational speaker and possible spiritual leader. Jack is clearly a loud, arrogant jerk who doesn't read because he has no patience and talks way too much. His character is exaggerated to hammer his dilemma to come.

A lemon tree magically appears in Jack's backyard. When Jack touches the tree, he becomes linked to it. The premise is that every time Jack speaks, the leaves of the tree fall off. One leaf falls for every one word Jack utters. If the tree loses all of its leaves, Jack dies, so he has to keep his mouth shut until he can figure out a way to break the link. Yet, it's not just the leaves. Anything that happens to the tree also happens to Jack, which makes for some interesting physical comedy gags.

If Murphy can't speak, he's got to keep the laughs coming somehow. Murphy is in every scene of this movie, which gives him a heavy burden. Allison Janey (The Help and Life During Wartime) who plays Jack's boss, Samantha, a women trying to woo a publisher for Sinja's book, is the straight man to most of Murphy's antics. Clark Duke (Greek and Hot Tub Time Machine) plays Aaron, Jack's assistant who compliments whatever Murphy is doing comically and often matches it or amplifies it.

Kerry Washington who I named as one of the sexiest stars of 2012... so far plays Caroline, Jack's wife who doesn't buy the whole lemon tree scenario and complains about Jack's ironic inability to talk to her. She sets out to get him to open up in any way she can, including using her obvious feminine wiles. This results in Washington stripping down to a bra and panties, revealing her curvaceous shape, but Murphy is also stripped down to his boxers, revealing he's no slouch.

The beginning has Murphy at his best. The middle portion felt like padding and the ending has some interesting dramatic moments, aided by Oscar nominee Ruby Dee (American Gangster and A Raisin in the Sun) who plays Jack's mother suffering from Alzheimer's. Writer Steve Koren (Bruce Almighty and Click) develops all the obvious bits that a premise like this would engender and director Brian Robbins (Varsity Blues and Hard Ball) who has directed Murphy before keeps it moving at a brisk pace.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for sexual situations and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 31 mins.


  1. Good review Marlon. This movie is really bad, and it was only worse by the fact that the whole movie surrounded itself around Murphy not being able to talk and use his voice, which is one of the funniest things about his comedic approach. No wonder why it was shelved for over 4 years.


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