The Words Directed by: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal Cast: Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Zoë Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Ben Barnes Running Time: 1 hr 36 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: September 7, 2012
PLOT: A writer (Cooper) is loved for his book, but there are personal and public prices he might pay if the true story comes out.
WHO'S IT FOR? I think it's a tough sell. If you love Cooper no matter what, and want to see him in a quiet drama, then that would be your main motivation.
It's not the fault of the film that it's being distributed by CBS Films, but I can't help feel a connection to the TV channel. The Words feels like a made-for-TV movie, with an oddly good cast, squeezed in to roles they shouldn't bother playing.
It's a tough sell. After this, this is a film about a famous author, but if you've seen the trailer, it's not the guy you think. Quaid plays Clay. He's adored and has a new book out. So what does he do? He reads it to a very receptive audience who can't wait to applaud his work. Clay is arrogant with his success, and loves to reap the benefits. One of the benefits in this case is a young woman played by Wilde, who clearly wants him. These characters exist, but they aren't the ones the film focuses on. Instead, this is a story within a story. Clay reads, and then we enter his fictional story about Rory (Cooper), and his desire to become an author. It's fiction within fiction, and that removes me from the story. It's a similar feeling I have to a dream sequence. It passes the time, but it's not real for the character. Sure, there might be parallels that can be concluded, but it hurts your connection to the film.
Rory is earnest in his desire to become an author. He stumbles across an old story left behind in a satchel, and it floors him. It makes him question his talent. You might be able to figure out what happens from there. the problem with the film is that I never once heard brilliant, life-changing words. Remember the film Finding Forrester with Sean Connery? Beyond giving us the gift of, "Who's the man now, dog?" it failed to prove Forrester was an amazing writer. The film just put music over Connery when he finally started to read his work. Absolutely nothing in the many books within The Words made me believe it should be anything but found in the bargain bin.
Besides Cooper showing some inner pain pretty well, the rest of the cast is given next to nothing to do. Quaid has a voiceover (proving he should never have a voiceover) and is a rich guy who we're supposed to feel sorry for in the end (I think, maybe). Wilde is better than playing a student who worships an author, right? Saldana plays the love of Rory's life, yet she disappears for large chunks of the film and really has no personality except for cheering on her man. Even Irons seems lost in a story that requires him to be an angry, smug old man, and spout way too much wisdom in the same scene. The one guy who gets a little credit should be Barnes, because he looks like a young Irons, and that should be enough to get him some more roles.
The Words fails to entertain, and fails to make me feel a connection to these characters. It's the way the story is told, and not the actors' faults. It shouldn't be anything more than a TV-movie. I guess a wide release in early September is close enough.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10