DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal
Dennis Quaid, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, John Hannah, Jeremy Irons, Michael McKean,J.K. Simmons,Olivia Wilde
Writing Credits:
Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal

There's more than one way to take a life.

"There's more than one way to take a life ..." and The Words couldn't be truer. Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) has achieved his every goal: a loving wife critical success and a best-selling novel. The only problem is he didn't write it. Now as his conscience starts to haunt him and his past wrongs are revealed it's difficult to tell fact from fiction. Jeremy Irons Dennis Quaid Olivia Wilde Ben Barnes and Zoe Saldana star in this romantic thriller that keeps you guessing until the very end.

Box Office:
$6 million.
Opening Weekend
$4.750 million on 2801 screens.
Domestic Gross
$11.434 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min. (Theatrical Version) / 103 min. (Extended Cut)
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 12/24/2012

• Both Theatrical and Extended Versions of the Film
• “Unabridged: A Look Behind the Scenes of The Words” Featurette
• “A Gentleman’s Agreement” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Words (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 21, 2012)

With a cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid and Jeremy Irons, 2012’s The Words looked like a potential critical success at the very least. However, the movie got fairly awful reviews and failed to find a commercial audience as well; with a gross of only $11 million, it quickly faded from view.

Despite those negatives, the premise and the cast drew me in and landed the DVD in my player. A prologue introduces us to award-winning author Rory Jansen (Cooper) and a mysterious old man (Irons) who seems destined to expose a secret that will create upheaval in Rory’s life.

From there we jump back five years and see Rory and his fiancée Dora (Zoe Saldana) prior to his success. He struggles to come up with writing that will earn him any money, and that forces him to borrow money from his father (JK Simmons) just to survive.

After Rory and Dora marry, they honeymoon in Paris. While they browse a shop, he finds a satchel he likes and she buys it for him. After he encounters rejection for his own work, he happens to discover someone else’s prose. Rory wishes he could write something like it, so he does – literally. Desperate for some literary achievement, Rory submits The Window Tears as his own and basks in his success. As a complication, though, he eventually meets the old man and we learn some revelations.

The Words comes with an unusual structure in which author Clay Hammond (Quaid) tells the tale of Rory and the old man from his own book, not coincidentally called The Words. This offers some narration and a separate subplot in which grad student Daniella (Olivia Wilde) appears to hit on the writer during and after his reading.

Essentially this creates an episodic structure. Rory’s tale dominates the first act, and then the old man’s story – told mostly in flashback – leads act two, with snippets of Hammond/Daniella interspersed. The final third melds the different elements to drive us toward a Big Reveal.

I don’t want to provide spoilers, but let’s just say that the aforementioned Big Reveal is pretty much a Big Nothing. This plot element occurs essentially to justify the existence of the Hammond/Daniella thread, and it’s not enough. Through much of the film, those segments feel like literary contrivances, and the information we find at the film’s conclusion seems gratuitous, honestly. It’s as though the filmmakers couldn’t think of a good way to tell the basic tale of Rory and the old man so they went with a showy finale.

The payoff doesn’t become worth the build up, and the rest of the movie lacks enough meat to make it substantial. With issues of theft, honesty and betrayal at work, The Words has the makings of a compelling tale, but it wastes them on cinematic shenanigans. The movie seems so concerned with its changes in perspective and chronology that it forgets to deliver genuinely interesting characters and situations.

Because of this, the film tends to plod and lack much momentum. Rather than anticipate new character/story revelations, we just wonder what plot contrivance will come next. That doesn’t add up to a satisfying experience.

Though the actors are generally fine, they don’t help elevate the material. Buried beneath old age makeup, Irons goes hammy, and Cooper seems too subdued; he lacks much passion and emotion. As the movie’s emotional cores, neither brings a lot to the table.

All of this leaves The Words as a lackluster film. It does come with some potential strengths but it loses them due to cinematic pretenses.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

The Words appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a pretty good transfer.

Sharpness was reasonably strong. Some softness affected wider shots, but those moments of haziness were minor when I accounted for the limitations of SD-DVD. Overall definition seemed quite nice for the format. I noticed no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes weren’t a factor. The movie also failed to provide any source defects, as it always remained clean.

Colors were fine. The movie opted for stylized tones like some teals, blues, greens or ambers, so hues didn’t boast great vivacity, but they were more than adequate. Blacks seemed fairly deep and dense, while shadows showed nice clarity. This was a solid SD presentation.

One wouldn’t expect fireworks from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of a movie like The Words, and the movie came with a pretty subdued mix. That was fine, though, as the track provided a good sense of environment. There wasn’t much here to stand out, but the track used the spectrum in a fairly satisfying manner.

Audio quality was positive. Speech appeared natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music seemed full and rich, while effects worked fine. They sounded accurate and clear. Nothing excelled here, but the track suited the film.

The DVD includes both the Theatrical Cut (1:37:05) and an Extended Version (1:42:34) of The Words. What changes come with the longer edition? I have no idea – I only screened the Extended Version, so I can’t compare the two. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention that we get two cuts of the film.

Two featurettes follow. Unabridged: A Look Behind the Scenes of The Words goes for eight minutes, 31 seconds and offers notes from writers/directors Lee Sternthal and Brian Klugman, executive producer Laura Rister, producers Tatiana Kelly and Jim Young, production designer Michele Laliberte, and actors Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Jeremy Irons, Ben Barnes, and Nora Arnezeder. We hear about the film’s origins and development, story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and some period details. Although we learn some decent basics, “Unabridged” rushes through things and doesn’t have enough time to tell us much. It’s promotional fodder, and excessively revealing promotional fodder as that, since it includes some spoilers.

A Gentleman’s Agreement lasts a mere one minute, 46 seconds and includes info from Cooper, Klugman, Sternthal, Quaid, and Saldana. It’s another quick, forgettable piece of fluff.

As Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino and many others have shown, filmmakers can muck with standard storytelling chronology/perspective and still create fascinating, coherent works. The Words attempts various forms of cinematic changeups but none of them succeed, as they just turn the flick into a collection of gimmicks without a substantial core. The DVD delivers pretty good picture and adequate audio but omits useful bonus materials. I wanted to like The Words but felt let down by it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main