Eddie Murphy returns to comedic roots in ‘A Thousand Words’

Starring Kerry Washington, Allison Janney and Cliff Curtis, Murphy plays a literary agent who finds out he has a limited number of words he can speak or write.

Reuniting with director Brian Robbins, with whom he collaborated on “Meet Dave” and “Norbit,” Murphy plays Jack McCall, a self-absorbed fast-talking literary agent who can literally talk anyone into doing anything.

He pretends that his wife is in labor in order to jump a long line at  Starbucks and is dismissive to the parking attendant at his workplace.  Obnoxious and pretentious, he’s the kind of guy who would do and say anything to seal a deal.

After attempting to sign author and spiritual guru, Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis) to his agency, he finds an unusual tree in his yard and discovers that with each word he speaks, a leaf drops off the tree. A thousand leaves equals a thousand words.  Ignoring Dr. Sinja’s advice to simply stop talking for a few days until a solution can  be found, Murphy attempts to continue business as usual conjuring up some outrageous ways to communicate. Ignoring a notepad offered by his long suffering assistant (Clark Duke), he uses a combination of mimed gestures, wild gesticulations and facial expressions to communicate.

His substitutes for speech go over the top and he quickly manages to lose his job, and alienate several people in his life including his wife (Kerry Washington), until he has a spiritual reckoning and learns the values of silence, listening and forgiveness.

Also starring Ruby Dee as his dementia-addled mother, “A Thousand Words” offers a balance of drama and comedy. Despite its formulaic and predictable plot it  is a decent and watchable flick.

Rated PG-13 for sexual situations including dialogue, language and some drug-related humor “A Thousand Words” releases on DVD June 26 and will be available on Blu-ray with 11 deleted and extended scenes, including an alternate ending.

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