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  Publicity Stills of "Norbit"
(Courtesy from UIP)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Brian Robbins
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Eddie Griffin, Terry Crews, Clifton Powell, Cuba Gooding, Jr.
RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: NC-16
Official Website: http://www.meetnorbit.com

Opening Day: 18 Feb 2007

Synopsis :

Norbit (Eddie Murphy) has never had it easy. As a baby, he was abandoned on the steps of a Chinese restaurant/orphanage and raised by Mr. Wong (Eddie Murphy). Things get worse when he's forced into marriage by the mean, junk food-chugging queen, Rasputia (Eddie Murphy). Just when Norbit's hanging by his last thread, his childhood sweetheart, Kate (Thandie Newton), moves back to town. In the comedy "Norbit," he'll find that nice guys sometimes finish first.

Movie Review:

Eddie Murphy treads familiar ground with “Norbit”, a zippy, offensive and ultimately meaningless tryst for its leading and perhaps more succinctly, its only star. There’s a surrealistic energy that surrounds “Norbit” which suitably infuses Murphy’s performance(s) with an almost schizophrenic frenzy from the gawky and earnest Buckweat-esque Norbit to the vile and abrasive Rasputina. But unlike his multi-character foray seen in “The Nutty Professor” remake, where the goodwill built throughout the film’s cadre of obese characters inevitably finds itself deserving of our appreciation, “Norbit” insists on blazing through the jokes with mean-spirited humour and a predictably uneven tangent of a couple of genuine laughs and mostly pre-pubescent slapstick. But since the trailers have been rampant and rightly indicative of what to expect, the Eddie Murphy brand of humour will no doubt end up drawing in crowds.

Murphy’s shown what he can do with real roles in the past and most recently in “Dreamgirls” (yes, it would have been too hard not to mention his role here considering the close proximity of release dates) where he delved into his role with enough humour, charm and pathos to keep it grounded and disciplined. With “Norbit” you can understand (but not really respect) Murphy’s recidivism into his safe zone of schtick, sketch-show type showmanship that has understandably laid the groundwork for his by and large successful career. A series of events, not all unfortunate and some even eliciting guilty chuckles are all “Norbit” shows for its technical wizardry with makeup and effects. There’s no overall pay-off in the story’s borderline misogynistic and racist inclinations aside from the alluring Murphy rage that if observed closely enough, shows an underlying intelligence waging a losing battle with crassness and audience pandering.

Norbit’s (Murphy) matrimonial situation is less than satisfying with Rasputina (Murphy), an abusive (physically and mentally) shrew that keeps Norbit henpecked and dominated, just barely making a mockery of the countless spousal abuse cases being waged. She has a larger than life physicality, and an even bigger personality. I’m tempted to give Murphy the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his fat-suit fetish, and claim that he does not play off fat people’s inner insecurities given the innate goodness of his characters in “The Nutty Professor” and Rasputina’s overwhelming confidence in herself. But then again, the rest of the film portrays her refreshing confidence as a personality flaw, a delusive woman in self-denial who’s convinced that her curvature matches up to the pulchritudinous measures of society. It’s either that or she’s just another conflated stereotype - the sassy big black woman who takes no lip from anybody. Then there’s Norbit’s new (or not so new) love interest, a blast from the past in Kate (Thandie Newton) who gives him the confidence to finally free himself from Rasputina’s folds. Kate’s the quintessential love interest that pervades this genre. She’s quite dim, friendly and non-judgmental. She’s also played by Newton, who looks staggeringly thin as the object of Norbit’s affection and the impetus for leaving the obese Rasputina. Way to break the mould!

With the sticky caramel sentimentality poured over its rocky road comedy, it resembles a misstep much like Adam Sandler’s (another massively successful and awfully predictable SNL alum) “Click” which just couldn’t mix its tactlessly tossed about barbs with sympathetic glances at its flawed individuals that apparently need a good kick up the backside instead of loving hugs.

Movie Rating:

(Glimpses of Murphy’s inherent charms marred by a banal movie)

Review by Justin Deimen

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