First Hit: An uneven film but the point regarding forgiveness is spot on.
Jack McCall (played by Eddie Murphy) is a fast talking, truth stretching literary agent.
He prides himself in being able to talk anyone into anything. He bullshits people left and right and by doing so has become one of the top literary agents in LA. To land what he thinks will be the book of the century by guru and new age teacher Dr. Sinja (played by Cliff Curtis) he visits his ashram and slyly convinces him to handle his book.
While there he touches a Bodhi tree and cuts himself. The tree feels/senses him and decides to pop-up in his backyard. As soon as he speaks leaves start dropping off the tree. Congruently, as leaves fall he doesn't feel well. Dr. Sinja tells him that when the last leaf falls he may die.
There only about 1,000 leaves left. The set-up is OK because we all know Murphy can talk. But is at this point the film loses its way.
There are funny moments, like at Starbucks when he is trying to pantomime his coffee order, but I thought the blind man crossing the street bit was too made up, wasn’t funny nor did it add to the film.
This is how the film unfolded, up and down and not holding together. What did work for me, because it is one of my principles of freedom, is that he figures out that living is about forgiveness. When he does, his life turns around.
Murphy was very uneven in this film. When he shines, it is bright, but otherwise it wasn't that funny or interesting. I think this was more of an issue of writing and direction than Murphy’s acting. Curtis is mediocre as a new age guru. Kerry Washington (playing Murphy’s wife) was OK, but not very compassionate as a wife and her character came off as selfish. Clark Duke played Murphy’s assistant and again this performance was very uneven but I don’t know how much of it was poor writing. Jack McBrayer was very good as the Beatle loving Starbucks Barista. Steve Koren wrote a very uneven script. Brian Robbins directed this and it was all over the map. Some wonderful scenes and some dreadful scenes, like the blind man scene.
Overall: This is, at best, a video film to watch on a Sunday evening.