What happened to Eddie Murphy's career? That seems to be the question critics and film buffs alike are asking after seeing his new movie 'A Thousand Words' that hits theaters today.
Eddie Murphy plays Jack McCall, a high-powered, fast-talking literary agent who always closes the deal. But his newest deal (hire) is onto him. Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis) and a magical Bodhi tree appear in Jack's backyard. Whenever Jack speaks, a leaf falls from the tree and when the last leaf falls, Jack kicks the bucket. With only 1,000 leaves, Jack has to figure out a way to communicate with his family, friends, and colleagues.
Critics have universally panned 'A Thousand Words'. Some have dubbed it Murphy's career killing new movie. The film earned a zero percent rating on movie reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, so not even one critic is recommending you see it. Below are some of the best bad reviews for 'A Thousand Words':
Rene Rodriguez for the Miami Herald: The only reason this dumb, insulting comedy won't permanently derail Murphy's career is that few people will ever be forced to sit through it outside of transatlantic flights and interrogation rooms at Guantanamo Bay. Why has this gifted comedian repeatedly squandered his talents on such crummy pictures?
Michael Phillips for the LA Times: In 'A Thousand Words' the camera stays about 2 inches from Murphy's hyperactive face, and you start to see the strain and desperation in the actor's eyes. Without saying a word, those reaction shots -- the film is a 100-minute reaction-shot unto itself -- say: I am in trouble here, yet I remain a big bad wolf of comedy. I will huff and puff and get a laugh. Somehow.
David Germain for the Associated Press: They strain to sow laughs out of this thin, pointless idea with dumb slapstick and pratfalls and a lot of wordless mugging by Murphy, who proves he can be just as insufferable when he's not talking as when he is.
Justin Chang for Variety: Alas, even Murphy's largely wordless, physically adroit performance can't redeem this tortured exercise in high-concept spiritualist hokum, which suggests a cross between Liar Liar and Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, but with more kitsch and gay jokes.
Tasha Robinson for the AV Club: Every emotion is loudly broadcast, every development repeatedly telegraphed. Kids who can't keep up with the demanding complexities of Sesame Street will be able to follow this one.
Peter Howell for Toronoto.com: Shallow performances, script and direction mute the laughs and the insights in a movie that ultimately doesn't have much to say.
Only the Washington Post had anything even marginally nice to say about 'A Thousand Words.' Movie critic Mark Jenkins wrote that it was more bland than actively bad and that the movie seems sincere about its self-help-book moral. Still, Jenkins only gave the film 1 ½ stars.