Short Ends and Leader

'A Thousand Words'

And just a few more.

A Thousand Words

Director: Brian Robbins
Cast: Eddie Murphy
Distributor: Paramount
Rated: PG-13
Year: 2012
USDVD release date: 2012-6-26

I think the only Eddie Murphy movie I've seen in the new millennium is Dreamgirls, which doesn't really count. Perhaps I should pay more attention to the Murphy's I've been skipping, because they all sound like variants of the same I-don't-want-to-be-Eddie-Murphy concept that might make them resemble late-Jerry-Lewis vanity projects. Case in point: A Thousand Words, a textbook example of the fable of self-hating success that Hollywood spits out in a committee-driven dream where narcissism meets narcolepsy. Shot mostly in 2008, it opened briefly to audience disinterest and critical hostility this year.

Murphy plays a hotshot agent with a fabulous house and gorgeous wife, which means he needs to be taken down a peg or five. Although this movie is so full of vulgarities and sex jokes that many parents would be embarrassed around their children, it presents a vision of the grown-up world that's strictly for kids, with business meetings that are even more surreal and nonsensical than all the stuff about the magic tree in the backyard that loses leaves every time Murphy speaks a word. In what universe would boss Allison Janney allow a drunk and delirious employee to stuff fries up her nose while she's talking to big clients? It's possible I'd have enjoyed these grating antics when I was eight, although even then I'd have found the troubled-marriage stuff as tiresome as I do now.

But wait--I'm a sucker for the theme of parent/child relations, especially fraught fantasies of reconciliation. How big a sucker? When the last third concentrates on the untrammeled sentimentality of Murphy "becoming his father" and looking inward and dealing with his anger and his inner child and his inner dad, and pays off the subplot of his dementia-struck mother (Ruby Dee), I found this movie, yes, magical and moving. Why did I sit through all the shiny surfaces and dumb humor to get that far? I kept having the nagging feeling it was getting somewhere, and it did. You can quote me. And I'll deny it. Maybe.

If the first two acts rate a two and the final act a seven, that averages to three. Math is fun!


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.