, Port Arthur, Texas

March 15, 2012

‘999 Words’ too many

Sean McBride
The Port Arthur News

— Eddie Murphy’s latest comedy, “1000 Words,” should have been called “One Word,” and that word should have been “No.”

This early candidate for worst film of the year features a confusing premise and absolutely no jokes worth remembering. What’s worse, “1000 Words” forces the famous funnyman to stop talking and deliver his performance through physical humor and lots of mugging for the camera. If Murphy has a comedic strength, it’s his verbal patter. Take that away and you’ve taken away the only plausible reason to want to see this film.

Murphy starts out as a fast-talking literary agent named Jack. He’s so good at his job that he doesn’t even read the manuscripts that he’s trying to sell. His life changes when he meets a new age guru (Cliff Curtis) whose upcoming book seems like a surefire best-seller. For some reason, this meeting catches the attention of the mystical forces of the universe, and they decide to teach Jack a life lesson. A magical Bodhi tree suddenly springs up in his yard. The tree drops one leaf for every word Jack speaks. When there are no more leafs, the man who made his living with words will simply die.

Nothing’s funnier than basing a movie on a death threat.

“1000 Words” is a cinematic cousin to “Liar, Liar,” another film where the universe decides to teach a man a lesson about the proper way to live his life. The difference is that Jim Carrey is known for his physical humor, whereas Murphy is not. There are moments in this film where Murphy is mugging so badly that it’s embarrassing to anyone who isn’t an infant.

The film does have good intentions, and a subplot involving Alzheimer’s disease is quite touching. Clark Duke also has some funny moments, playing Jack’s well-meaning assistant. That means that audiences looking for that latest Clark Duke Alzheimer’s comedy might enjoy this film, but Eddie Murphy’s fans will still be disappointed.

I suppose that we should have seen this coming. The film is from the director of “Norbit” and the writer of “Jack and Jill”—not exactly a stellar pedigree for a star in desperate need of a career comeback. If you’re looking for more proof that this film is a bomb, note that it was produced four years ago and has been sitting on the shelf ever since. “On the Shelf” is where “1000 Words” should have stayed. If anybody suggests that you should see this film, stick with that one word. Just say “No.”

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at