Norbit (DVD)

Fat from the flabby overdone screenplay; excessively broad jokes, and most notably, gigantic big-assed character


Eddie Murphy, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Cuba Gooding Jr

Eddie Murphy’s fans have stuck with him through thick and thin…but when all his latest film is is fat – from the flabby overdone screenplay; excessively broad jokes, and most notably, gigantic big-assed characters – surely even Murphy realises he’s in dire need of snacking on something a little more healthy (and thankfully, his small turn in “Dreamgirls” may be the start of that).

Thing is, Murphy’s gotten so use to doing so little for so much – yep, you heard right; so little for so much – that he’s decided his cinematic diet doesn’t need tweaking at all. Ya see, in the past couple of years, Murphy’s been holidaying in ‘family comedy’ land – starring in the likes of the unintelligible but hugely successful box-office smashes’ “Dr Dolittle” and “The Nutty Professor” – and he’s hardly had to lift a finger.

His experience with the latter – which earned quite a pretty penny on release; as did its sequel – was so positive that he’s been ordering a serve of ‘anything similar’ since.
He obviously believes audiences are hungry for more of the ‘comedian plays dress-up’ comedies… but he’s wrong. We’re full, right? Didn’t even require seconds, let alone thirds.

Norbit, a weedy bespectacled wimp, is raised by a kindly but racist Chinese man (Murphy) who unfortunately couldn’t stop his ‘almost son’ from marrying the monstrously huge and damn mean-spirited Rasputia (Murphy).

Now, Norbit’s stuck in marital hell – and if he ever tries to escape, Rasputia and her three equally huge brothers will come after him. Escaping never entered his mind, not until an old childhood flame (Thandie Newton) reappears in his life.

“Norbit”, for better or worse, is the blacksheep sister of “The Nutty Professor” films – just not as good. It’s essentially – besides the character names and whatever thin script there is – the same film. For an hour and a half, Murphy gets to either wear a fat suit or wear tons of make-up to play several different characters. Granted, the make-up job that Rick Baker has done here, and in the previous films he has worked with Murphy on, are outstanding. I can’t tell you how many people in the audience I saw the film with didn’t spot Murphy as the old Chinese man at the start of the film – he was truly unrecognisable. But the make-up job is the only redeeming quality of the film.

Yes there a couple of good jokes – the ‘fat jokes’ at the water park are the best – but you’ve seen them in the overplayed trailer.

Most of the film was filmed at both the backlot of Universal Studios and the backlot (predominately, where they film TVs “Gilmore Girls”) of Warner Bros Studios – and its shows big time. The movie is almost a commercial for the backlot tours – cutting between the two backdrops like it were a co-op marketing campaign. The fact that the production didn’t move beyond studio walls cheapens it even more.

The jokes aren’t that hot, the storyline’s a bit all over the place, and the performances are almost non-existent (though obviously Murphy’s quite good at trying on different accents and so on), but Eddie Murphy pulls the best funny faces around. Decide for yourself whether that’s enough to shell out greenbacks for.

The DVD includes a bunch of featurettes – one on the make-up man; another on the stunts, etc – and some other not-very-interesting bits and pieces; like deleted scenes and a photo gallery.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris