Norbit (12A)



Comedy (2007)
102mins US

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Eddie Griffin, Terry Crews, Cuba Gooding Jr
Director: Brian Robbins
Writer(s): Eddie Murphy, Charles Q Murphy, Jay Scherick, David Ronn
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

When his parents die, Norbit Albert Rice is taken under the wing of the enigmatic Mr Wong at the Golden Wonton Restaurant and Orphanage, where the young Norbit meets his beautiful and intelligent soulmate, Kate. Sadly, Kate is adopted and moves away, and Norbit is left to fend off the bullies until overweight Rasputia rescues him. The misfits eventually marry and forge a life of give and take: Norbit gives Rasputia his undivided attention and she takes everything she can get. This odd vision of marital bliss is shattered when Kate unexpectedly walks back into Norbit's life, setting his heart aflutter. Should he abandon his wife to pursue the woman of his dreams?

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LondonNet Film Review
Norbit

In Hollywood, you can be on top of the world one minute and in the gutter the next. Look at Eddie Murphy...

Eddie Murphy as Norbit and as Rasputia in Norbit. Photo Credit: Bruce McBroom. TM & Copyright 2006 by Paramount PicturesBefore the Academy Awards, he was the red-hot favourite to win Best Supporting Actor for his heart-rending portrayal of a drug-addicted singer in Dreamgirls. Then Lady Luck deserted him. He lost the Oscar to veteran Alan Arkin and invited a tabloid feeding frenzy by leaving the ceremony straight after his category, thereby missing Dreamgirls co-star Jennifer Hudson collecting her award. Nobody likes a sore loser.

Now, Murphy returns to his broad comic roots, donning the latex body suits which served him so well in The Nutty Professor, to play three larger-than-life characters in Brian Robbins's crude and mirthless comedy.

Norbit is a big, fat mess - a grotesque, offensive spectacle that seems to think racial stereotyping is fun so long as Murphy is spitting the insults. Bad comedy stinks no matter who is delivering the lines and as far as the screenplay for Robbins's film is concerned, co-writers Murphy, his brother Charles, Jay Scherick and David Ronn can't muster a single laugh between them.

When his parents die, Norbit Albert Rice (Murphy) is taken under the wing of the enigmatic Mr Wong (Murphy again) at the Golden Wonton Restaurant and Orphanage, where the young Norbit meets his beautiful and intelligent soulmate, Kate.

Sadly, Kate is adopted and moves away, and Norbit is left to fend off the bullies until overweight Rasputia (Murphy... again) rescues him from a pummelling. The misfits eventually marry and forge a life of give and take: Norbit gives Rasputia his undivided attention and she takes everything she can get.

Eddie Murphy as Norbit and as Rasputia in Norbit. Photo Credit: Bruce McBroom. TM & Copyright 2006 by Paramount PicturesHe lands a low paid job at the Latimore Construction Company run by Rasputia's three musclebound brothers, Big Jack (Terry Crews), Earl (Clifton Powell) and Blue (Lester "Rasta" Speight). The brothers hope to buy the orphanage from Mr Wong, but he already has another buyer lined up: Kate (Thandie Newton), who has returned to in the town of Boiling Springs with her shady fiance, Deion (Cuba Gooding Jr).

The Latimore's recruit Deion to help them buy the orphanage so they can turn the property into the Nippolopolis Gentlemen's Club. When Norbit discovers the deception, he must find some way to save Kate and declare his love, but will mean ole Rasputia let him?

Painting the eponymous hero as a sweet, gentle-hearted wimp and Rasputia as a monster, Norbit declares its intentions from the sickly opening frames.

Murphy's showboating grows tiresome very quickly, especially the foul-mouthed Mr Wong, who is portrayed as the Yoda of the sweet and sour balls. Newton's love interest is easy on the eye and has a cute smile but there's no chemistry with Murphy's beleaguered hero. At Norbit and Rasputia's wedding, Mr Wong looks at the elephantine bride and sighs, "It's a horror show." How true.

- Kim Hu

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