Box art for A Thousand Words

A Thousand Words

comedy, drama

Fast-talking agent Jack McCall has set his sights set on New Age guru Dr. Sinja. But after a mysterious Bodhi tree appears in his backyard, Jack realizes he better mend his ways before the last leaf falls from the tree or he's a goner.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 14
4 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
3 out of 5
Positive role models
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
1 out of 5

Disappointing comedy about self-reflection has sexy stuff.

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.

what 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 reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 19
    see all A Thousand Words reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: The high concept breeds lowbrow gags.

- A.A. Dowd, Time Out New York, Friday, March 9, 2012

Rotten: A Thousand Words marks yet another lazy, "family-friendly" comedy in which Murphy phones it in -- remember when this guy was dangerously funny? -- and wastes the talents of a supporting cast that also includes Allison Janney and Jack McBrayer.

- Alonso Duralde, TheWrap, Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rotten: In the simplicity of its premise it embodies the notion of high-concept entertainment. In its execution it demonstrates how technical efficiency can drain the life from a story.

- Andy Webster, New York Times, Thursday, March 8, 2012

Audience Reviews

2 stars

Pretty sad to see just how bad Eddie Murphy's acting has become. This film was a complete disappointment. If you have 1 hr 31 min to waste then this is your film. 2 stars 8-24-12

- bbcfloridabound, Thursday, September 20, 2012

2 stars

Once upon a time, Eddie Murphy was a spectacular comedian. As with many other comedians, his career began in the 1980s with still critically and publicly acclaimed hits such as Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America. That all changed in 1998, when Murphy began veering his comedy more toward family territory. The result: several flops such as a Doctor Dolittle remake, Dr. Dolittle 2, Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion, Meet Dave, and Imagine That. We've forgotten most, if not all of these existed despite their recency; looking at how well that page out of Encyclopedia Craptastica was received by critics in general, those six films average out to a decimal slightly below 31% approval, with scores of 44% at best and 13% at worst. Last year we were taken by surprise. Many of us may have gotten used to Murphy's newfound lack of true comedy and skipped Tower Heist, a film in which he was ironically the standout. I still consider buying the film on DVD from time to time, just to have access to those laughs we haven't seen since his motor-mouthed days of stand-up comedy and Saturday Night Live, before remembering that his Atlas-esque ability to carry the entire film over his own two shoulders, was virtually the only reason that movie was commendable. Needless to say, Tower Heist was all too promising. Perhaps it was a way to get our hopes up for another Murphy movie, even if that meant he, an actor known best for his hilarious characters who don't know when or how to shut up, has to abide by silence for almost an entire movie. Thankfully the film has something to joke about in its concept, if nothing else, but that joke is all on Eddie Murphy, who heavily succumbs to it. Let's call this A Thousand Turds for the sake of aptness. A Thousand Words tries its hand at awe-inspiring quirk several times, only to go in a direction completely unintended. You can't expect Eddie Murphy to star in a moving dramedy that uses a thought-provoking script to have an audience make sense of things themselves. For better or for worse, that was realized, and the film acts instead in the drag of a (Austin Powers fans, I believe this would be the perfect moment for "Mini-Me" air quotes) "cooo-meee-dyyyy" that tosses characters and events out so randomly, it makes the deus ex machina tactic seem brilliantly unconventional and genuine. We start with Jack McCall (Eddie Murphy), a hard-working family man devoted to his beautiful wife (Kerry Washington) and adorable toddler son (Emanuel Ragsdale). He is an important figure at an oh-so-busy publishing company, and in some of his spare time, he visits a psychiatrist. The scenes depicting his psychiatric support are intended to make us laugh, but somehow, the throwback to the classic motor mouth is downright annoying. Jack is visited by a genie-type figure and a tree with a thousand leaves that has suddenly grown in his garden. The genie soon hints at why the tree is there: some sort of spiritual nonsense along the lines of, "We, the gods, hereby declare that we are sick and tired of you and we want you to shut up for just three days." His life, for the next three days, relies on the tree, and whatever happens to it, happens to him as well, and whatever the tree feels, he feels as well. You could correctly guess that on several occasions, we find him humiliating himself in front of his co-workers, when squirrels dig themselves into the tree or people come by and spray it with fertilizer. What really holds Jack's life by a thread is that whenever he speaks a word, a tree loses a leaf (once he's discovered this, at least two-hundred leaves have already vanished), and when there are no leaves left, he dies as well. I guess it's crucial to repeat that this itself is essentially a one-joke movie, but even amongst the poor acting and script, it's even worse because of how terrible that one joke is. We want Eddie Murphy to speak. The short little snippets and nonsense words he blurts out when necessary (if you couldn't predict that his character gets begged to speak throughout the entire movie, you probably haven't seen very many movies at all) simply are not enough. It's like watching an Olympic swimming match on TV, with a camera that is constantly cutting over to shots of Michael Phelps sitting out in a wheelchair. We begin to lose interest at the rate the leaves fall. read the rest at

- spielberg00, Sunday, September 2, 2012

1 star

I've always been an Eddie Murphy fan, but I must say, his movies lately have really stunk. "A Thousand Words" is the latest example of that, as this movie aims to be funny, sweet, and charming, and fails miserably. Murphy stars as Jack, a literary agent trying to sign a new age guru, Dr. Sinja(Cliff Curtis). Then a tree grows in Jack's front yard, and every time he speaks a leaf falls. Once all the leaves fall, the tree dies and so does Jack. Stupid? Very! Murphy tries to make the movie funny as he tries to communicate in weird ways. But, he never writes a note or sends a text message, something like this makes this movie with no logic, even more hard to believe. The acting is terrible as the supporting cast are all bad, and Murphy just looks like he is going through the motions and doesn't resemble the same guy he used to be. I'm all for comedians doing more family friendly movies, but at least make them entertaining. I doubt even kids like this movie. Heck, it has 0% on the rotten tomato meter. That alone should tell you to stay away, far away from this.

- fb100000145236770, Friday, July 20, 2012