A Thousand Words

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
A Thousand Words Movie Poster Image
Disappointing comedy about self-reflection has sexy stuff.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 22 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCotton123 May 30, 2021

Eddie @ His Best

Eddie does a wonderful job of making the character real. This isn’t for kids.
Parent of a 6 and 15-year-old Written byImportantParent January 19, 2014


Teen, 13 years old Written byKaris_Leigh November 6, 2018

Definitely not a waste of time

I actually first watched this movie when I was about five or six, and of course I didn't remember much of it. Suddenly today I happened to remember it for... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 13, 2017

Good Film

Im not one to watch many movies but today on film4 i started to watch it and i thought it was an amazing story.

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

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