A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: March 9, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: June 26, 2012
- Cast: Clark Duke, Eddie Murphy, Kerry Washington
- Director: Brian Robbins
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual situations including dialogue, language and some drug-related humor
- Last updated: March 4, 2020
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