I learned that Eddie Murphy's latest film, "A Thousand Words" was actually completed in 2008 while Dreamworks and Paramount were still buddy-buddy. It was supposedly shelved because of he break-up and because Murphy had just come off two monumental flops "Imagine That" and "Meet Dave". I guess they assumed with his mild success with "Tower Heist" that the timing was right.


Of course there is a certain logic to this madness. "Dreamgirls", the Oscar winning musical drama garnered $154 million worldwide and Eddie Murphy an Oscar Nomination. "Norbit" riding that train of popularity actually earned - as bad as it was - $159 million worldwide. It's untimely released may have torpedoed Murphy's chances of winning the Oscar, but it surely helped Paramount/Dreamworks grab the gold.


People might be inclined to do the same thing with "A Thousand Words" piggy-backing on "Tower Heist", which earned $152 million globally. Lots of luck on that!

The story, written (dare I call it a story) by Adam Sandler bud Steve Koren, reminded me immediately of the short story by William Sydney Porter (aka O. Henry) "The Last Leaf". In that, a little girl becomes ill and in declining health. The tree outside her window continues to lose it's leaves and as it does her health declines even more.


However, her kindly old neighbor didn't want her to die so at the last minute he painted the last leaf to the tree so it wouldn't fall and so she would live. IT worked and the girl lived. Unfortunately for the old man, he died of pneumonia.


Eddie Murphy plays Jack McCall, a fast talking top drawer literary agent who only has the top selling authors as his clients. He has little time for anyone else including his lovely wife Caroline (Kerry Washington) and son (Emanuel Ragsdale). For that matter even his co-workers are useless to him. His character is amazingly like Adam Sandler's character in "Jack and Jill" which was also written by Koren.


Long story short, he hustles a spiritual guru named Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis) and when Sinja figures out what McCall is up to, he sends him a Bodhi tree. The tree absorbs and reflects on everything that McCall does but to the point, for evry word McCall uses, whether spoken or written, the tree loses some leaves. When the tree loses all it's leaves, presumably McCall will die.

It takes a while for McCall to figure out the shtick, in fact his assistant Aaron Wiseberger (Clark Blake) tapes his mouth shut to keep him for speaking.


The alternate form of communication is through miming everything. He is determined to maintain his same level of BS by playing charades with everyone he encounters. The rest of the film is Murphy contorting his now aging face in what are suppose to be humorous expressions. Oops.


If, as I still assume, this story was conceived from O. Henry's short story, then there should have been some sort of consequence aside from the leaves falling off. If the end result is death, shouldn't there be a decline in his health? If in on spurt of words, he causes hundreds of leaves to fall off at once, shouldn't he have suffered a big thump of life leaving his body?


There were other problems with the story. But the biggest problem was... it just wasn't funny. Not funny. No Laughs. I literaly had to recheck the listing to make sure it is listed as a comedy.


If a film fails to achieve it's objective - in this case laughter - then it has failed. This thing was so un-funny, it owes me laughs!


"A Thousand Words" can actually be summed up in one word: stinker. Watching it is like watching a train wreck in slow motion, a quick way of summarizing Murphy's career of late.   -- GEOFF BURTON