Words, The (2012)
'The Words' Movie Review
You know those Russian nesting dolls? The ones that sit inside of each other and get smaller and smaller? Well, “The Words” is kind of like that, only less enjoyable.
THE GOOD: The idea behind this movie is frankly a very good one: Rory Jansen (played by “Sexiest Man Alive” Bradley Cooper) is a struggling would-be author, whose works of fiction are continually rejected by a long line of publishers. After taking out yet another loan from his father for he and his bride Dora (Zoe Saldana) to survive, Rory stumbles across an old manuscript inside a tattered second hand briefcase, and the moral dilemma begins; what would happen if he retyped this magnificent literary masterpiece and claimed it as his own? Well, fame and fortune, apparently – but also that pesky little thing called ‘guilt’ which only increases when Rory has the unexpected pleasure of meeting the original author whom he screwed over, and who is now an old man (played by the incredibly talented Jeremy Irons). And if this film had only delved deeper into THAT encounter and spent its strength on a storyline of possible psychological blackmail and threats, it would have been deserving of some praise. But it seems the writers got greedy, and wanted to put a weird spin on things – a story within a story, if you will – and that is precisely when the movie went from promising to pointless.
THE BAD: So here’s where they got it wrong – and I say this not only because it bugged ME, but because it apparently bugged a whole lot of other critics out there as well – and that was the added storyline of Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) who is a middle aged successful novelist that is narrating the story of Rory Jansen for us, despite our intense desires for him to stop. Just. Stop. It.
Clay is also being semi-stalked by Daniella (the unblinking Olivia Wilde) who admires his work so much that she manages to score a trip back to his apartment and then begs him to elaborate on why he writes what he does. The whole side story is annoying, and the characters made me wish I was sitting closer to the screen – so I could throw something at it.
THE UGLY: Aside from some glaring implausibility in the story (Rory is borrowing money from his dad to live on, yet he and his new bride take a honeymoon to Paris?? He somehow manages to track down the original author of the story again, even though he was never told his name?), there’s just really no nice way of saying this so I’m going to jump right in: You have some really amazing talent in this film. Dennis Quaid is not one of them.
As someone who dreams of fame and fortune as an author someday – well, I’d settle for just the fortune part, frankly – I understand the longing for someone to recognize your literary efforts. If this movie had stayed focus on that point, following Rory through his plagiarism, without adding pointless subplots and characters, it could have been a best seller. This was more like reading a paperback you picked up in the clearance section.
The Trophy Wife gives this 2 1/2 trophies.
The Words has a running time of 97 minutes and is rated PG 13 for brief strong language and smoking. (F word used once)