A Thousand Words



Disappointing comedy about self-reflection has sexy stuff.
  • Review Date: March 9, 2012
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A Thousand Words' basic messages are that people should think before they speak and not spout so many meaningless lies. As in most family dramas, the main character learns that he needs to be there for his son, unlike his own father. He also realizes that his job should come second to his family's needs. The benefits of being quiet and observing are also promoted.

Positive role models

Caroline is a wonderful mother and a generous wife who tries to work at her marriage and communicating with her husband. Jack goes from being a terrible role model to someone who's discovered the importance of self reflection, thinking before he speaks, and making every word count. He also realizes that he needs to be a role model to his son, even though his own father wasn't there for him.


No overt violence, but lots of physical comedy, plus a moment in which Jack looks like he has died. Jack playfully slaps Aaron, and later Aaron tackles and pushes Jack to get him to be quiet.


One extended scene of humorous foreplay featuring Caroline in a dominatrix-style outfit. She handcuffs her husband (who's wearing only his boxers) and demands that he "talk dirty" and "naughty" to her. She makes suggestive comments about all she will "do" if he asks her. Throughout the movie, she wears sexy outfits and a cleavage-baring negligee. Caroline and a friend discuss whether her husband is "getting some" and "getting ass." Aaron makes comments about his "sexual hunger" for a furry fetish he and another assistant have indulged in at the office.


The words "s--t," "bulls--t," and "ass" are used frequently. Other language includes "damn," "d--k," "goddamn," "crap," "hell," "pecker," "oh my God," and the Spanish word "cojones."


Starbucks is so prominently featured in the movie that it might as well have produced the film. Jack is an espresso addict, and he goes to the same Starbucks daily. Many scenes take place at the Starbucks, and the barista is even a supporting character in the movie. Absolut vodka is shown briefly in one scene.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink hard liquor and cocktails at various lunch and dinner meetings, including vodka, martinis, beer, etc. Jack wants to get drunk in one scene and starts drinking straight from the bottle.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that A Thousand Words is an Eddie Murphy comedy with some adult themes about family and marriage that may not interest or be appropriate for tweens. Language includes frequent uses of "s--t" and "ass," but there are no F-bombs. The nature of a marriage after a baby is discussed several times, and, in one sequence, a wife tries to seduce her husband by donning a dominatrix outfit and demanding that he "talk dirty." Starbucks is featured prominently in the film, and a barista is even a supporting character. On the bright side, there's a positive message about putting family first and finding inner peace and forgiveness.

What's the story?

Jack (Eddie Murphy) is an overly caffeinated, fast-talking literary agent who's used to closing even the most resistant of authors. To land Dr. Sanji (Cliff Curtis), a Deepak Chopra-like spiritual leader, as his client, Jack lies and pretends to believe in Sanji's path toward inner peace. Soon, a mysterious tree shoots up in Jack's backyard, and with every word Jack says, a leaf falls. Desperate for answers, Jack enlists Sanji for help, but the guru only states the obvious -- that he has about 1,000 words left until he, and the tree, die. Unable to speak (or write) words, Jack reverts to outrageous gestures and utterances to communicate with everyone in his life, leaving his wife, boss, assistant, and local barista exasperated.

Is it any good?


It feels trite at this point to state that Murphy is a gifted comedian. He obviously is, but he apparently doesn't mind making every movie offered to him at a certain price. It's not that A THOUSAND WORDS is completely unwatchable -- it's simply forgettable. Murphy does this manic shtick by rote after so many years. He contorts his face and moves his body like all experts at physical comedy, but it's eye-rollingly banal. 

Even the movie's concept, with its Zen-like message about forgiveness and family, is basically the same derivative plot line as every single other comedy about a slick, overworked dad who finally realizes that he's sacrificing too much for the sake of his day job. It's always fun to see 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer (who plays Jack's regular barista), but the reliance on Starbucks as not just a product placement but as a repeated setting in the movie is a bit off-putting. Murphy's die-hard fans will be pleased to see him vamp and improvise, but those looking for a worthy new comedy should look elsewhere for their cinematic fulfillment.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about A Thousand Words' message of work versus family life. Why do so many movies feature the same basic premise about a workaholic father who finally realizes his family should come first?

  • Starbucks is shown again and again. How do you feel about a brand being so prominently featured in a film?

  • What's the message about how people communicate? How does silence change Jack's perspective and attitude?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 9, 2012
DVD release date:June 26, 2012
Cast:Clark Duke, Eddie Murphy, Kerry Washington
Director:Brian Robbins
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual situations including dialogue, language and some drug-related humor

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old November 23, 2012

Are you crazy!

I watched this when I was about 10 or 11 years old and I thought it was appropriate for my age. You just don't know what kids say in school?! This is great and I don't understand why the ratings for this are so low. I loved it, but it may not be appropriate for really young viewers, but you're going to wait until they are 14 to watch this movie. Worth the watch and has a family message in the end.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byreviews_101 August 21, 2012

Amazing movie, but some iffy things

I really enjoyed this movie. It's about this man who suddenly has a tree pop up in his backyard, and everytime he says/writes a word, a leaf falls off. There's about a thousand leaves on the tree, and once all the leaves fall off he dies. In order to get what he wants at work and such, he has to act it out, which is pretty funny. There's also a good lesson in it, about getting closer to family. However, there are a few iffy things, like an inappropriate scene and some cussing. I rated this as on for 11 and up since I watched this movie with my 11 year old brother and he handled it fine, and he enjoyed the movie as well.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 9 years old July 17, 2012

Amazingly inspiring!!!

I literally just watched this about an hour ago and I loved it!! It follows Jack Mcaff ( Eddie Murphy) a businessman and husband who sells books. Long story short ( No spoiler version) . A tree has 1000 leaves left and every word he says a leaf falls if all the leaves fall he dies. If you want more watch it yourself. The movie really makes you think about life and what a precious gift it is. Parents there is one sex scene but if you want to show this movie to your younger children just fast forward or something cause this movie is the bomb. A must watch feel good film!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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