You may remember the Monty Python sketch about the funniest joke in the world. In it, Ernest Scribbler pens the funniest joke ever, and as a result, dies laughing. Everyone who reads the joke dies laughing. It is a clever and silly sketch, and of course we never get to hear the funniest joke in the world or we would now be dead. This is pretty much the situation you have in the new movie The Words. It is about a really, really good book that moves everybody to tears and shapes and ruins lives in the process. But we never get to see that book, and instead we are given a bit of a silly sketch about a really, really good book.
The story is told by a real fictional author of fiction about a fictional author of fiction who realizes he really is no good at it. (That bit may be a little autobiographical.) The fictional author of fiction finds an old manuscript of this really, really good novel, ends up publishing it under his name, and is hugely successful. Enter now the fictional real author of the novel who tracks down the fictional author and tells him the fictionalized real story of the novel, how it was written, and how it came to be lost.
Meanwhile, the real fictional author who is telling the story about the fictional author and the real fictional author, is being stalked by a real fictional floozy, and I might add, for no apparent reason. Then as the fictional real story of the novel wraps up and the fictional author struggles with what to do with his dilemma, the real fictional stalker girl and the real fictional author confront the reality behind all the fiction -- the fictional story is really real, and the fictionalized real story is really real, and only the names have been changed to protect the fictional innocent.
But wait! Even in the admission of the truth, the real fictional author carefully chooses his words so that in essence he admits that everything he says is a lie, leaving one wondering if that is true.
I suspect that no matter who is credited as being the author of this story, it was originally written by M.C. Escher before he mercifully realized that the graphic arts were his forte.
I found very little to like about this movie. There is a good performance by Jeremy Irons as the fictional real author. In fact, Mr. Irons' performance is about the only thing worthwhile in this film. Zoe Saldana as the girlfriend/wife of the fictional author has a few good moments, but mostly just stands around looking moist. I like Ms. Saldana, and think she is a good actress, but there was nothing for her to work with in this movie. "Nothing for her to work with" includes an actor portraying her boyfriend/husband -- Bradley Cooper did his best flounder impersonation in his role as the fictional author.
And Dennis Quaid (real fictional author) as the object of the lustful desires of Olivia Wilde (stalking floozy)...well, that was more of a Salvador Dali image.
I'm not saying you shouldn't go see this movie. I'm just saying that there is no good reason to go see this movie, or to even look for it on DVD or on the free movie selections on your cable channels.
(No Artists were harmed in the writing of this review.)
This was a movie I was eager to see from the first preview I saw. A movie about WRITERS! I work with writers all the time, so how could I not want to see a film about my favorite creatures? Apparent from the preview was that there was an alleged plagiarism -- what depths of moral development, I wondered, could be plumbed with a deep story about whether or not to snitch a plot, a character development, the framing of words in a paragraph?
Alas, forget depths. An author finds a manuscript typed by someone else, allows people to believe he wrote it, and only becomes "sorry" when he's confronted by the real author. A very basic moral development: an action is only wrong if you are caught doing it ... and only avoided if you get punished for it. In the case of The Words, the true author dies, and the plagiarizer shrugs and continues to let people believe he wrote the story.
Well, that was disappointing. So was his agent's reaction -- Don't you dare tell the truth! We'll get in trouble!
Didn't anybody ask Mr. Plagiarism why his writing had suddenly "improved" over night? Didn't he have to sign a contract stating that what he was selling wasn't stolen property? And if indeed he was a writer, didn't the words "cheat, lie, steal, misrepresent" have definitions in his dictionary?
Pathetic story with cloying clichés, can't stand Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde looked like a psycho. It wasn't as bad as Battleship, I do have to admit that. But maybe a few explosions would have helped.