Metascore
37

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 30
  2. Negative: 9 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Sep 6, 2012
    75
    Amazingly, though, Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, cowriters and codirectors of The Words, have the audacity - and the skill sets - to pull this all off. They wrest emotional truth out of hokum. They also wrest intelligent, nuanced performances from their cast.
  2. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Sep 6, 2012
    63
    The performances, excepting perhaps Olivia Wilde's odd turn, are solid, and the central story never loses our attention, but there's a lingering aftertaste of vague dissatisfaction.
  3. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Sep 6, 2012
    63
    It's more or less a grown-up picture, and not bad at that, though its muted and patient style has both its merits and its drawbacks. Still, as I say: not bad.
  4. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Sep 7, 2012
    60
    The Words founders on a spurious dichotomy between love and art. Which is a pity, because the movie is smart and persuasive on the casually incremental way in which plagiarism becomes an option for people like Rory - and perhaps for anyone.
  5. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Sep 6, 2012
    60
    A clever, entertaining yarn that doesn't bear close scrutiny.
  6. Reviewed by: Barbara VanDenburgh
    Sep 5, 2012
    60
    A lush but fumbling literary melodrama outfitted with an attractive, generations-spanning cast and a puzzle box of three competing narratives.
  7. Reviewed by: Adam Litovitz
    Sep 7, 2012
    50
    The Words suggests that a story, whether true or not, can help get us through, if we believe it enough. Though this film can't quite pull it off, a good enough thief can get away with it.
  8. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Sep 6, 2012
    50
    In the end - and every story needs one - The Words is a decent, ambitious, unoriginal film about a decent, ambitious, unoriginal writer. Both aim for greatness. Both fall short.
  9. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Sep 6, 2012
    50
    Ironically, the dialogue in The Words is its chief failing.
  10. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Sep 6, 2012
    50
    The Words aspires to depths greater than the sex we never see these two have. There's nothing for the eye to do while the ear fills with the banalities of two streams of narration, one by Dennis Quaid, the other by Jeremy Irons, all of it built around a lie.
  11. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Sep 6, 2012
    50
    The fatal flaw of this screenwriting term paper is that Cooper's character is a boring jerk we're supposed to regard as a nice guy who made an honest mistake.
  12. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Sep 5, 2012
    50
    Watching the movie, I enjoyed the settings, the periods and the acting. I can't go so far as to say I cared about the story, particularly after it became clear that its structure was too clever by half.
  13. Reviewed by: Todd Gilchrist
    Aug 22, 2012
    50
    The Words fails to surpass dramatically the bland lack of specificity in its title while still offering a solid roundup of performances from its talented ensemble cast.
  14. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Aug 22, 2012
    50
    A literary film that stands to work best for those who don't read, The Words is a slick, superficially clever compendium of stories about authors of uncertain talent and varying success.
  15. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Sep 7, 2012
    40
    Unfolds like the slow-motion dismantling of the world's most boring matryoshka.
  16. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Sep 6, 2012
    40
    Though Cooper deserves credit for pushing beyond his comfort zone, he's clearly miscast in a role better suited to a young unknown.
  17. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Sep 6, 2012
    40
    It's not atrocious, but it borders on it, thanks to Dennis Quaid's annoying narration and his even more irritating portrait of the self-loathing writer whose presence bookends the two main storylines.
  18. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Sep 6, 2012
    40
    For a tale of thieving, The Words plods along. Not that a literary heist is as exciting as a bank robbery, but there's a remarkable lack of tension in this story.
  19. Reviewed by: A. A. Dowd
    Sep 4, 2012
    40
    The connections among the film's various plot strands are painfully obvious; by the time a grizzled Jeremy Irons saunters in, ready to dole out a comeuppance, perceptive viewers will have mentally flipped to the last page.
  20. Reviewed by: Ray Greene
    Aug 22, 2012
    40
    The Words is a movie for people who buy their novels at Starbucks, made by people who write their novels at Starbucks.
  21. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    Sep 6, 2012
    38
    A well-acted but narratively limp indie that's undermined by a failure to connect emotionally with its audience.
  22. Reviewed by: Adam Markovitz
    Sep 8, 2012
    33
    Cooper, who looks appealingly wolfish in his expensively tailored suits, plays the whole thing with a dutiful, earnest expression lacquered on his face, his eyes misting on cue at the exact same moments yours will be rolling into the back of your head.
  23. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Sep 9, 2012
    30
    Hoariest of all are the exhortations to make distinctions between "fiction" and "life."
  24. 30
    The movie, written and directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, is desultory when it's not inept, but the set-up is so good that you can't help sticking it out to the (unforgivable) end.
  25. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Sep 7, 2012
    25
    The acting, script and direction - not to mention the syrupy score - conspire to make this a perfect storm of a hoot that will find its most appreciative audience among renters who have had a few glasses of wine beforehand.
  26. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Sep 6, 2012
    25
    A nitwit story about a nitwit author who has written a nitwit novel about a nitwit author who has published a nitwit novel which, in fact, he has stolen wholecloth from another writer whose personal behavior, as fictionalized in the novel-within-the-novel-within-the-film, can charitably be described as...nitwit.
  27. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Sep 6, 2012
    25
    Even the story-within-a-story structure doesn't pay off. This material needed more substance and ideas - and less flash and sumptuous production values.
  28. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Sep 5, 2012
    25
    The film folds narratives on top of narratives in a vain attempt to mask the fact that there's nothing to read between its graceless lines.
  29. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Sep 5, 2012
    16
    The idiotic melodrama The Words is a maddening contradiction: a film about the publishing industry and a great literary fraud that doesn't have a literary bone in its body or a thought in its pretty, empty little head.
User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 68 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 20
  2. Negative: 4 out of 20
  1. Sep 7, 2012
    5
  2. Sep 18, 2012
    10
    My wife and I saw the "The Words" today. There are no sex scenes, no fantastic chase scenes, no animation, no cutseu little kids. None of these...just a great story, with great dialog and characters so real they came out of the screen to share the popcorn. Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, and Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, and Zoe Saldana earned every dime they were paid for bringing these characters, and this story to life. Full Review »
  3. Jan 3, 2014
    10
    These people are out of their minds. This movie was hands down one of the best films to come in a long time, without use of special effects or fancy gimmicks...pure genius storywriting. As an avid reader and film watcher, I have to say anyone who didn't give this at least an 8 has the attention span of a 5 year old. Full Review »