Friday Flicks: What’s the Word on The Words?

TIME breaks down which films to see and which to avoid this weekend.

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The Words

Tagline: There’s more than one way to take a life.

Considering that there often seems to be more interest in the notion of the Great American Novel – words that must always be capitalized – than in the actual novel itself, it was probably inevitable that a movie would be made about the same subject?

And so we find ourselves confronted with The Words, in which young author Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) is being lauded for a Great American Novel that he didn’t actually write. Rory found a manuscript in an old briefcase while in Paris on honeymoon with his wife Dora (Zoe Saldana) – which just goes to show that visiting the Eiffel Tower and checking out the Mona Lisa aren’t the only activities in town. Naturally, there will be a price to pay for the lie, and lessons will surely be doled out and duly digested.

But will The Words curry favor with the critics? Not exactly. The word is out, and it isn’t encouraging. “A literary film that stands to work best for those who don’t read,” slams Variety. “An appealing cast, top flight technical aspects, and a storyline that agrees with its intended audience’s prejudices about the creative process could turn The Words into a minor hit. But as the major statements on art and life it yearns to be, chalk this one up as a failure,” notes Box Office.com. At least the writer-directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal from Screen International take a backhanded approach: “A clever entertainment that segues from thriller to drama to romance without breaking a sweat or offering much depth.”

MORE: TIME Cover Story on Jonathan Franzen: Great American Novelist

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