Kiwi actor stars in 'worst reviewed movie of all time' (+video)

Eddie Murphy and Cliff Curtis star in A Thousand Words, possibly the worst film ever made.
Eddie Murphy and Cliff Curtis star in A Thousand Words, possibly the worst film ever made.

It's already been slammed as "unfunny", "unoriginal" and "banal" - but Eddie Murphy's new film now has a dubious new title: The "worst reviewed film of all time".

A Thousand Words, also starring New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis, was released in America this week to a resounding chorus of disgust by critics.

It has become infamous for having a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with all 41 reviews compiled by the review aggregate site expressing a negative opinion on the film.

A Thousand Words, filmed in 2008 but delayed for four years by studio Paramount Pictures, stars Murphy as Jack McCall, a wise-cracking literary agent with the gift of the gab.

It was directed by Meet Dave and Norbit's Brian Robbins, and was produced by Nicolas Cage.

He's sent to guru Dr Sinja - played by Curtis - for some spiritual guidance, and finds his life is changed by a magical tree that appears in his backyard.

Every time McCall talks, a leaf falls off the tree. Once every leaf is gone, McCall will die, so Murphy spends the movie making extravagant hand gestures to express himself.

Reviews for the film were so bad, it prompted The Guardian to ask, "Is A Thousand Words the worst reviewed film of all time?"

Critics didn't hold back with their criticism.

"With A Thousand Words, Murphy plunges headlong back into the swamp of insipid comedies he'd just crawled his way out of," said Barbara VanDenburgh of the Arizona Republic.

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Everyone in the film seems to be living in Stupid High-Concept Movieville."

"Eddie Murphy should have just said the word 'No' to this tired, formulaic comedy," said The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck.

The film has been a box office disaster, rating sixth over the weekend with just US$6.4 million in ticket sales. The film cost around US$40m to make.

While Murphy, once lauded as Hollywood's funniest comedian, seems to be going from one disaster to another, it doesn't appear to have affected Curtis' career.

He stars in new ABC television series Missing, also starring Ashley Judd and due to begin airing in the US this week.

Curtis recently told the North County Times he found the script for A Thousand Words amusing.

"This idea that you've got to be silent and choose your words seems intriguing. Monks in many cultures do this - take a vow of silence and not speak for days, months or decades," he said.

"It's a beautiful and poetic premise to build a broad comedy around. Personally, I've said many things I wish I could take back in an instant."

He said he didn't want to play his character as an "Eastern mystic stereotype".

"The guy I'm playing shouldn't be aware that he's being funny. Ever heard of a guy called Eckhart Tolle? He's got the weirdest German/South African/Canadian accent, and this sort of unsettling calm that keeps you unnerved.

"You think, 'No one should be that calm.' So that's who I wanted to sound like."

Watch the trailer for A Thousand Words:

- Herald online

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