A struggling writer (Bradley Cooper) finds the manuscript of an unsigned novel in a used briefcase and publishes it as his own. His wife (Zoe Saldana) thinks he’s finally written his masterpiece. His agent (Zeljko Ivanek) thinks he’s found his ticket to success. And the old man who actually wrote the book (Jeremy Irons, pruned and vicious) thinks the truth can’t be hidden quite so easily. (The book’s title, by the way, is Window Tears, which a smarter movie might’ve called out for its delicious mediocrity.) Lies, fame, betrayal: All the stock ingredients of a good potboiler are here, but nothing in The Words ever even reaches a simmer thanks to a clay-footed script and leave-no-cliché-behind direction (both courtesy of writer-director collaborators Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal). Several meta-layers of storytelling — the Bradley Cooper plot line is actually introduced as a tale narrated by Dennis Quaid, playing yet another author — only add to the clutter. And 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. D+.