Norbit

 
Directed by: Brian Robbins
Written by:Jay Scherick, David Ronn
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Terry Crews, Marlon Wayans, Cuba Gooding Jr, Eddie Griffin
Released: February 22, 2007
Grade: C-

There are brilliant movies, there are great movies, there are good movies, there are average movies, there are bad movies, there are terrible movies, there are disgraceful movies and then there is Norbit.

My goodness, this film was awful.  I saw it at a critic’s screening in a small theatrette.  Of the 9 people in attendance, 4 had left by the half-way mark.  That’s a 44% walk-out ratio.  I have no statistics to verify this but I dare say that few other films could match it in that regard.

The plot, which is thinner than a single sheet of one-ply toilet paper, centres on a dweeb named Norbit (Murphy).  As a baby, he was left by his parents at a Chinese restaurant / orphanage and was raised by Mr Wong (also Murphy).

After going through Norbit’s background in a drawn-out opening sequence, the film then takes us into the current time.  Norbit is married to Rasputia (Murphy again), an overweight woman who looks heavier than a gorilla.  I know it’s not politically correct to say that but the joke is used in the film.  I just wanted to give an indication of how low this “comedy” goes.

Rasputia is constantly demanding attention and the useless Norbit reluctantly provides it.  The situation changes however when Kate (Newton) arrives on the scene.  Norbit and Kate were once best friends at the orphanage but Kate left when just a young girl – she was fostered out to a family.  She has now returned home to buy and run the orphanage which gave her so much happiness as a child.

There are other characters in this mess.  Rasputia has three brothers who run the town like the mob.  They’d like to get their hands on the orphanage so that they can open a strip club.  Two pimps keep popping up but I’m not really sure what purpose they serve.

What was Eddie Murphy thinking when he signed on to do this film?  He has just earned his first Academy Award nomination (for Dreamgirls) and yet he has followed it with what might be his worst ever movie.  Shouldn’t an Oscar nom help get you better roles?  I’m confused.  Murphy’s three roles, body suits and strange voices did not entertain me in the slightest.  It’s like The Nutty Professor, only without a script.

In its opening weekend in the United States, Norbit made $34.2m.  Given the average ticket price, I’d estimate that roughly 3,000,000 people saw this film in its first three days.  That thought sickens me more than the film itself.

I like to give every movie a fair chance but Norbit doesn’t deserve it.  If you liked it, please don't tell me.