The Words - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Words Reviews

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Super Reviewer
August 8, 2013
The ability to write should be first among the qualifications required to write a movie about a writer... but all through this film, all I could think was, "No one involved with this film has ever written anything!" And the attempt to lean on narration - it's like the book you're reading! - falls completely flat, as it's never quite clear who is supposed to be narrating, or (of course) who would read a book were it this badly written. I'd recommend You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger well before this one, which has a similar plot but comes from Woody Allen, who may have written a thing or two before the present movie.

I really like the premise, and the talented cast does its best with this disastrous script, but unfortunately The Words is much more about the idea of being a writer than it is a believable story of anything a writer might think/want/do.
Super Reviewer
½ July 25, 2013
There is really nothing that works in this convoluted, nonsensical and terribly written drama where not even the visuals escape the artificial and cliché. Everything is a total failure, from the expository narration to the ridiculous story-within-a-story-within-a-story structure.
Super Reviewer
October 14, 2012
People didn't like this much. Why?..because of the story, inside of a story, and partly inside another story? or because of the ending that left you wondering what was really true? I found this movie mesmerizing. There isn't one bad actor in this, that is for sure. The story was heartbreaking, and intriguing. It was beautifully done, and left me with a feeling of awe. Usually, endings like this one make me really mad. For some reason, this ending seemed to fit the movie...
Super Reviewer
January 12, 2013
The Words story within a story within a story structure takes away any dramatic impact the film might have had. The performances are actually pretty good, especially Jeremy Irons and Bradley Cooper, but the script tries to be more complex and interesting than it needs to be. The story holds your attention from the beginning, but the more things are revealed the less interesting the story becomes by the end of it. Olivia Wilde's character could have been cut entirely because it is just a poor character with no motivations at all. The Words has some interesting points to make, including living with the choices we make and how no one can help you live with those choices except yourself, where writers draw the line between fiction and real life, and how hard it is to get a book published in these harsh economic times. All these interesting points are drowned out by a poor ending, though. The script just tries a little too hard to cram too many plot elements into an otherwise very interesting, engaging, and well acted story for the first 3/4 of the film. I'm torn because The Words really kept me engaged and wondering what was going to happen next, like any good thriller can, but botches it trying to get to the end. I can't quite recommend it, but it is certainly an interesting misfire.
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2013
"Words" is a good drama about a man who finds and story and passes it on as if he wrote it and the consequences of that choice. It has good performances by Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana, but a great performance by Jeremy Irons as the original author(he's just called the Old Man). Irons is one those actors who just has the voice and steel gaze that just makes you take notice. The movie and subject matter are both great, but the ending of this movie is a real dud. I dunno, some people may like it, but I found it to be a letdown. Not sure what I was expecting, or how I would have ended it, but I'm sure something else would have been better. Good for a one time watch, but the ending might leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Super Reviewer
½ December 6, 2012
I really liked most of the stuff with Jeremy Irons. Everything else, not so much.
Super Reviewer
½ September 10, 2012
A washed-up writer finds a novel in a satchel and passes it off as his work, but he must deal with guilt when he is confronted by the original author.
There is a frame story about an author seducing a younger woman that is absolutely senseless and goes nowhere. The story within the story about the plagiarist is also quite senseless. It features the Bradley Cooper character, and Cooper does wrought guilt well, but the supporting characters are boring. Rory's wife's job within the plot is to support and act as his conscience, but she is devoid of any personality and has no life of her own. When the characters lack any individuality and aren't played with any panache, the film has to get its energy from a unique plotline; there are no twists or surprises, so there's nothing unique about the film as a whole.
Overall, Cooper and Jeremy Irons do their best, but I don't think anything could save this poor effort.
Super Reviewer
½ September 22, 2012
OH. MAN. So fraught and overly wrought but deliciously fromagey nevertheless. A struggling writer deals with guilt after taking another author's work as his own. DRAMA! The real writer doesn't want money or credit, JUST HIS LIFE BACK! DRAMA! The perfect, devoid-of-personality wife was unknowingly complicit in her husband's literary deception. DRAMA! Shit goes down. Life sucks.

I'm a fan of Bradley Cooper, so I go into his movies with positive expectations. He acts just fine, quite well, if I may be so bold. There's even a moment when he almost goes Full Man Cry ala Dawson Leery, but it's just restrained enough that it isn't embarrassing for anyone.

The screenplay itself is surface and stereotypical about the life of writers, and the frame story with Dennis Quaid and Olivia Wilde, is dumb and unnecessary. They were trying to go deeper, but I didn't like Inception either.
Super Reviewer
½ September 15, 2012
There's more than one way to take a life.

Very very good film! The Words is an engaging film, and almost feels more like a book on screen. And like a good book, it quickly reins you in and keeps entertaining until the end. The Words was dumped into theaters on what is historically known as the worst weekend for movie attendance, and most likely won't garner much of an audience. The film will also have trouble living up to the competition come Oscar season, but it delivers an entertaining and appealing film on the first weekend of fall award season releases. The Words is a movie that can only be truly experienced to the max when gone into raw without any knowledge of the storyline. It may seem to be a small and easy concept to grasp, but it is definitely one that will quickly turn into a complex, deep and compelling movie which will grasp you from start to finish. If you are looking for a movie, this is absolutely one that you should see. However, if you are looking for a quick and easy movie, this isn't one I'd go to. Don't choose this unless you willing to see it from start to end. It's a story that can be very easily seen in our own lives and understood in our own individual way. The unexpected twits and turns this story takes you to are ones that will lead to realize that it is much more than just a man with a story and the aftermath.

Layered romantic drama The Words follows young writer Rory Jansen who finally achieves long sought after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There's only one catch - he didn't write it. As the past comes back to haunt him and his literary star continues to rise, Jansen is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man's work, and for placing ambition and success above life's most fundamental three words.
Tired of Previews
Super Reviewer
½ September 7, 2012
Question: Have you ever plagiarized someone else's work? What would make anyone do that especially if they wanted to be a writer? Beats me but The Words tried answering that question. Unfortunately, even after seeing the movie I don't think they made their point very well.

I saw an advanced screening of The Words and I was really looking forward to it, for a couple of reasons. First, Bradley Cooper was starring in it. No, it's not just because he is attractive (okay, those eyes get me). Honestly, I have been following his career since his appearance on the television show Alias. Since then he's played a variety of characters from lovable, best friend to out-right ass. I've seen a lot of his films and even reviewed a couple of his more recent ones, The Hangover Part II and Limitless, and he's proved to me he can act.

Second, I do like a story about writing but there does seem to be a ton of films about writers, right? Well, writers are the ones who get a film started - they write the screenplay! Anyway, it's a topic that I find fascinating because I write nearly every day and some days I struggle to get a single word on the page (screen). Most writers can empathize with characters who struggle with their talents. It's sort of in our nature because we have read so many great writers - who probably inspired us to start writing in the first place. But when it comes to liking your own words us writers tend to be our own worst critics. Nonetheless, rejection from the publication world can take out any shred of self-esteem you possess We've all been there.

The Words shows a young writer, Rory Jensen (Bradley Cooper), and how he can't seem to get his first novel published. But he is determined, as many young novelists are and finds a job within a publishing house. A few years pass and he stumbles upon an old manuscript. His choices after that are at the heart of the film. However, the explanation and storytelling (which there are actually three stories in one) is where it fell flat and didn't convince of why certain characters acted the way they did. Overall the story felt pushed and predictable. I really started to get bored about halfway through.

The most disappointing part of the movie was Jeremy Irons. Usually his acting seems flawless and effortless. In The Words, however, it appeared disingenuous. In fact, by about a third of the way through the film I felt the whole story was disingenuous. Bradley Cooper was probably the only actor who I felt did a decent job in his role. Other than that this film lost me; and I saw no real point to most of the character's choices or sometimes even their reason for being in the film. Oh well, hope the next film is better.

My favorite part: Yeah, yeah, it's Bradley Cooper. Although there were some nice set designs/architecture that caught my fancy.

My least favorite part: I know I mentioned not caring for Jeremy Irons but I understood why his character was in the film. However, Olivia Wilde's character left me scratching my head.

Directed by Brian Klugman & Lee Sternthal, Animus Films, 2012

Written by Brian Klugman & Lee Sternthal

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, Olivia Wilde and Dennis Quaid.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Rating: PG-13
Length: 96 minutes

Review: 3 out of 10
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2014
"The Words" starts with Clay Hammond(Dennis Quaid) reading from his latest novel that begins with an old man(Jeremy Irons) in the rain. But for the time being the story is more concerned with Rory Jansen(Bradley Cooper) who has just won a literary award. Of course, success did not come easy, as he faced perennial rejection from publishers and agents, having to borrow money from his father(J.K. Simmons) on more than one occasion. So, eventually Rory gives up after a fashion and gets a real job and marries his girlfriend Dora(Zoe Saldana). After which, they decide to honeymoon in Paris.

"The Words" is a good look at the randomness of success.(Otherwise, we already knew that writers are a bunch of egotistical bastards.) But unlike a lot of other movies, this should have been longer in giving more depth to some of the characters, especially Dora. Otherwise, the first two acts set up an intriguing story. It's the third act where the movie in trying to answer every conceivable question starts to break down. Now whether that's the movie's fault or Clay's fault is up for debate.(That flirtation with meta weirdness I think saves the movie from itself.) What's not up for debate is Jeremy Irons' weird performance as just past the age of 60 he ironically has no idea how to play an old man. However, I would like to go on the record and say I would pay good money to hear Dennis Quaid read from the phone book.
Super Reviewer
½ January 10, 2013
When struggling writer Cooper comes across an old novel manuscript, he retypes it and passes it off as his own. The book goes on to become a bestseller, with Cooper enjoying his fame until he is approached by the real author, Irons.
The above story is actually the plot of Quaid's character's latest acclaimed novel, meaning we get not just a story within a story, but a story within a story within another story, thanks to the flashback sequences which detail the circumstances under which Irons wrote the original novel. The addition of Quaid is a pointless one which adds to the running time unnecessarily. The dilemma Cooper finds himself in is interesting enough but never really gets explored fully. Irons steals the show in his handful of scenes but overall 'The Words' is a bit of a bore.
Super Reviewer
October 14, 2012
I never reviewed The Words because it immediately made me fall into a pit of self-examination and inspired me to start writing again. Now that I finished the script, here goes. The Words is all over the place, and not in a good way. The story is interesting enough, so it makes for a cool trailer...the movie, not so much. The actors are fine, it does make you think about life and your place in it, but at the end of the day The Words is just not very good.
Super Reviewer
½ September 15, 2012
An interesting premise and strong acting can't save this film. The terrible pacing, lack of likable and developed characters, a plot thread that doesn't have any relevance to the rest of the story, and one of the worst endings ever in a movie make The Words one of the most disappointing, and one of the most horrible, movies of the year.
Super Reviewer
½ November 17, 2013
The film was good but could have been so much better. I love the style of the film of a story within a story structure. I do like that they create a puzzle hear for the audience to put together, however, my problem with the film is the ending. The ending was a huge disappointment. I felt like the film was building up to a huge revelation about how all the characters are linked together and the ending was like a curveball. The ending raised more questions than answering any of them. The acting was good. I thought Bradley's character reminded me too much of his character from Limitless.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2013
"Say the word and you'll be free; say the word and be like me; say the word I'm thinking of; have you heard the is love?" Oh no, wait, Bradley Cooper's more romance-driven film about a book comes later, though the, "be like me" part kind of fits, seeing as how this film is about plagiarism. Speaking of familiar material, first it's this film, and next, it's "Silver Linings Playbook"; what is up with Brad Cooper and books this year? Well, he can tap into 100% of his brain capacity, so it's not completely outside of the realm of possibility that he would write two... or three, or four, or sixty books within a year, as sure as it "is" outside of the realm of possibility that someone would be able to unlock 100% of his or her brain without, like, the universe or something collapsing. I joke, but I still liked "Limitless", and certainly more than most of critics, because although "Limitless" did much better with the critics than this film, it still didn't quite recieve the credit that it probably deserved. I don't know, maybe the critics are still a bit iffy about Cooper, as this film will definately tell you, because, woah boy, is it recieving some not so flattering "words" from critics, which is pretty harsh, considering that this film actually isn't all that bad. Still, while this film is something of an underrated effort, it's still also underwhelming, and for more than a few reasons.

As I'll go more into later, this film's subject matter is nothing short of highly promising, with intrigue and depth that I'm sure would make for a darn good book, as sure as it would make for a very good film, something that this film isn't, because as strong as the story concept is, experienced writers and debuting directors Brian Klugman's and Lee Sternthal's execution of their vision proves to be underwhelming and problematic, with flaws that all start with exposition, or rather, a lack of exposition, as the film, while reasonably fleshy, feels underdeveloped, failing to tap as deeply as it should into its various story layers. More problematic is the body of the storytelling, which calls more to your attention the limiting of exposition through a degree of heavy-handed hurrying that glosses along this character study that cannot afford to be handled with clumsiness that may not be too intense in this film, but just pronounced enough to take the potential genuineness of the depth and intrigue and craft superficiality. At merely a little over an hour-and-a-half, this film is brief, and too much so, having a story that isn't quite as dynamic and, in concept, considerably lengthy as it appears to be in this film's marketing, but still not taking the time that it should draw from exposition and depth, and deliver on what it needs to, and yet, as heavy-handedly hurried as this film is, a just as towering problem is, of all things, slowness, because although the film is rarely, if ever all-out dull, it blands up and pads out. With all of its hurrying and exposition limitations, the film still finds time to kill time, not exactly making up for time lost by using excess material to fill the holes that would bring this film to its conceptually fitting longer length, but still having many a moment outstay its welcome, to where the film doesn't simply meander, but slips into bland aimlessness. These desperate reaches for length prove to be about as effective as the superficiality and hurrying in emphasizing the minimalism within this film's story concept, which is still worthy, but betrayed by a faulty execution and, of course, its own promises. If nothing else, this film is overambitious, being not necessarily arrogant in its vision, but too desperate and too hopeful to produce something that it doesn't quite have the storytelling chops to produce. Sure, the film's ambitions are understandable, yet they only further pronounces the shortcomings, of which, there aren't quite as many as this Rotten Tomatoes' startingly poor score would have you believe, but enough for this promising tale to sputter out in execution short of what it could have been. Of course, what the final product ultimately is is a film that engages more often than not, not being able to achieve what it should and wants to achieve, but keeping you interested, and doing so with the help of technicality, or at least in some...-a few...-one part.

One of the most overlong points in the film is a segment that is necessary, even with its excessiveness, and that is, of course, Jeremy Irons' "Old Man" characters' flashback to his youth and, by extension, the events leading up to his writing of the book, - whose plagiarization by Bradley Cooper's Rory Jansen character is the central conflict of Dennis Quaid's Clay Hammond character's book, the titular "The Words" (It's a story within a story within a story, or rather, "Storyception") - which is a subplot that may outstay its welcome a bit, but proves to be one of the more engaging sections of the film, not just emotionally, but aesthetically, as production designer Michele Laliberte recreates the '40s and '50s with clever intricacy and believability that sells you on the setting, while Antonio Calvache's cinematography hits its highest marks. For whatever reason, Calvache chooses to really step up his photographic efforts when shooting the beautiful flashback segment, though it's not like the rest of the film is visually bland, for although the film is at its most handsome during the aforementioned flashback segment, which, even then, has its relatively average spots, no moment in the film is less than visually appealing, with depth to definition and lighting that, upon finding a magic occasions, particularly stuns. The film isn't exactly technically and artistically remarkable, having neither the considerable quantity nor immense quality to be all that stunning, but it is aesthetically attractive, even though its primary focus rests within the very substance that goes all too often betrayed in execution. Again, the film's storytelling, while hardly sloppy, could be tighter, with more range and less aimlessness, both of which go into emphasizing natural shortcomings and limitations within this film's story concept, though not so much so that it totally obscures the subject matter's value, which isn't abundant, but strong, with unique structuring ideas that cannot be ignored, even in the final product, and potential depth, weight and livliness that may unfortunately be not much more than unrealized potential, but is potent enough in concept to spark an immediate degree of intrigue that is actually augmented by directors Brian Klugman's and Lee Sternthal's ambition. Klugman and Sternthal betray their story vision with overambition to go along with and emphasize storytelling hiccups, yet the pride in this project is undeniable, even if it is undercut, though most definately to no fault of the performers, because as problematic as the offscreen performances are, it's the oncreen talent that really shines, with the underused Dennis Quaid and Zoe Saldana, and the briefly present Ben Barnes and Nora Arnezeder, being charming and, on occasions, effective when presented with genuine dramatic material, while Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons stand out. Cooper has only so much to do dramatically, yet he is consistently charismatic, and when dramatic material does, in fact, come into play, he once again reminds us of his potential by delivering on emotional range that is not simply impressive or compelling, but powerful in its marriage of subtlety and intensity that is much too underused, much like Jeremy Irons, who, upon stepping onto the screen, steals the show, reminding us of his history of being a powerful actor by taking considerably limited material and turning in a nevertheless excellent and exceedingly charismatic performance that subtly and gracefully conveys Irons' "Old Man" character's lifetime of regret, brought more to light by an injustice, with depth and a profound presence that defines Irons' character as a mysterious yet deeply defined human, and one of the more compelling forces in the film. The film has the style and, to a certain degree, acting chops to help in making this film's worthy story concept more worthy, yet narrative is too limp to take off, though not so limp that it completely disengages, as the undeniable ambition and strengths that can be found spark enough intrigue within the film to make it an enjoyable one, even though it could have hit harder.

To close this book... within a book (I'm telling you, man, "Storyception"), a worthy story concept goes betrayed by underdevelopment and heavy-handedness, matched only by, of all things, slow spells that bland and bloat narrative into aimlessness that emphasizes the story concept's natural shortcomings, which go further brought to life by overambition, thus making for a film that falls short of what it could have been and wants to be, but still doesn't fall too far behind, being pushed foward by a handsome visual style - which is, like the production designs, at its sharpest during the 1940s and '50s segment - and story concept whose undeniable uniqueness and conceptul value, complimented by charm within Brian Klugman's and Lee Sternthal's perhaps too ambitious direction, and a myriad of memorable performances, - particularly those of compelling leading man Bradley Cooper and a show-stealing Jeremy Irons - helps in making "The Words" an interesting portrait on the humanity of literature, even with its unrealized potential.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
½ December 25, 2012
The Words is a film that seemingly offers an interesting premise, but doesn't quite follow through with its delivery. It involves a number of story lines, some of which are certainly more interesting than others, with the Quaid story-line never seeming to work. In that sense, the script is a mixed bag, with some good dialogue (delivered by Jeremy Irons of course), and some smart uses of flashbacks, but at the same time it's seemingly overly-written, with too many threads that don't seem to connect. This gives the film a certain disjointed, unpolished feeling.

The acting, however, is pretty strong throughout, with Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons making for an interesting pairing. A lot of the scenes were staged well, with a consistent tone, and a respect for the talents involved. The script, however, never gives them much to work with, with its constant shifts and lack of a coherent through-line. This makes the film seem a bit meandering in that it never seems to quite pull itself together.

The message, that of the past coming back to haunt us, dealing with our limitations, and the fear of inadequacy, I appreciated, and the film certainly had moments in which it conveyed all of these films well. Overall, however, it simply didn't have the narrative to give it the necessary engagement. As such, it fails on a cinematic level, seeming more fitted for a book or even a stage play.

2.5/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
½ September 24, 2012
This reviewer has some words for this flick and they're mostly glowing. Indeed, showcasing lines to be appreciated, Bradley Cooper's crowd-pleasing latest shows near limitless A-team entertainment potential despite its literary pedigree. Not that the world of book publishing is stodgy, mind. It just doesn't prove a sexy selling point when it comes to movie marketing...and that goes double for this flick's title, The Words. And no, it's not a sequel to The Reader. Rather, this film enfolds as a slick H'Wood presentation of a complex well-written script that strangely never feels like slick H'Wood filmmaking. Indeed, like sands through an hourglass, The Words smartly fall into place.

In this PG-13-rated drama, a celebrated novelist (Dennis Quaid) dogged by a persistent student (Olivia Wilde) presents the story of a young writer (Cooper) who sees his literary star rise after having the great American novel published in his name...only he didn't write it and the past (Irons) returns to haunt him.

Here, Cooper headlines an A-List cast that includes Irons, Quaid, Zoe Saldana, Wilde, Ben Barnes, and J.K. Simmons. Granted, in their few scenes together, Irons acts circles around Cooper, but the young star certainly has likability and charisma in spades. His chops help to sell through the high fallutin' concept, which is a multi-layered intersection of separate stories within stories (think: The Hours, but with egomaniacal good-looking novelists and less culpability). The true accolades belong to co-writers and directors Brian Klugman and Sternthal, however. Without The Words, such performances - however well played - would be for naught.

Bottom line: More than Words.
Super Reviewer
½ April 2, 2012
As much as "The Words" is a rehashing of films and stories that came before it, this literature drama still poses a set of important and thought-provoking questions about morality. Personally, I was engulfed in the film, which could have easily been a painstakingly straightforward drama, yet instead takes a much more layered approach to the storytelling process. I was easily able to put myself in Bradley Cooper's shoes and ask the same tough questions he faced. Although some of the twists of the plot are telegraphed well before their "reveals", the acting is high caliber enough to carry the film through all of its endings, or lack thereof.
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