Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Eddie Murphy, once known for his vulgar, red leather-clad stand-up comedy and classic films like “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Coming to America,” has slowly been slipping into comedic irrelevance for the past few years.
Murphy sanitized his act in 1996 for “The Nutty Professor,” but he still managed to keep the fart jokes and fill the movie with universally funny scenes. In 1998, he starred in “Dr. Doolittle,” which was slightly worse than his 1996 hit but not bad enough for him to be chastised too harshly.
The “Shrek” series saw him voicing the lovable Donkey, a role he was perfect for. Every film in the series saw great success, and Murphy was doing all right.
He first showed signs of the end of funny Eddie Murphy in 2007 when he played three characters — one a hefty female — in “Norbit.” The film won four Razzie Awards, given to the worst of the worst in cinema.
He was nominated for two more Razzies for 2008’s “Meet Dave,” and now it looks like he’s on track to earn a few more trophies for “A Thousand Words.”
The movie was filmed in 2008 and planned for release in 2009, but it was delayed because of DreamWorks Pictures’ split with Paramount.
Director Brian Robbins said the movie would be released in 2011 during an interview for his other project, “Fred: The Movie.” Yes, that annoying, chipmunk-voiced kid from YouTube. If anybody had hope for “A Thousand Words” after hearing about that connection, their thought process was flawed.
In the film, Murphy plays Jack McCall, a literary agent who says whatever has to be said to get what he wants, even if it means lying. Although he is unaware of it at the time, one of his many lies has the potential to cost him his life.
McCall tells New Age guru Dr. Sinja that his book will get published, but when this does not happen, Sinja places a Bodhi tree in McCall’s backyard that is magically connected to him — the tree has 1,000 leaves, and for every word McCall says from that point on, a leaf falls off the tree.
When Dr. Sinja asks McCall what happens to a tree when all of its leaves fall off, McCall realizes if he keeps talking and the tree becomes bare, he will die.
This means that throughout most of the film, Murphy is silent. Murphy has made a career off his hilarious voice, so take that away from him and there isn’t much left. His physical humor isn’t bad, but with a plot this thin, the only thing Murphy could have done to save his reputation was not agree to be in this movie.
Since the movie was shot four years ago — save for some reshoots in 2011 — most of the “humor” comes from sources that might have been funny a few years ago, but not anymore.
This might be a stretch, but perhaps DreamWorks planned their divorce from Paramount in an attempt to make sure this movie didn’t see the light of day, and some cruel force was committed to making sure it hit theaters.
The film has a 0 percent rating on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, which means not a single critic enjoyed the movie. Murphy’s demise is the only thing funny about “A Thousand Words.”