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Crass Outweighs Cute in Norbit

  • Lisa Rice Contributing Writer
  • 2007 2 Feb
  • COMMENTS
Crass Outweighs Cute in <i>Norbit</i>

DVD Release Date:  June 5, 2007
Theatrical Release Date:  February 9, 2007
Rating:  PG-13 (for crude and sexual humor, some nudity and language)
Genre:  Comedy
Run Time:  92 min.
Director:  Brian Robbins
Actors:   Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Terry Crews, Clifton Powell, Mighty Rasta, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Eddie Griffin

For those who saw Daddy Day Care and Doctor Dolittle, and were hoping for some more “Eddie-Murphy’s-now-a-dad-so-he’s-making-cute-family-films” movies, don’t hold your breath. Murphy’s latest comedy, Norbit, has way more crassness going for it than cuteness.

Norbit is the story of an ugly black baby (according to his caretaker) who is tossed at the door of an orphanage and raised in a Chinese restaurant by Mr. Wong (Eddie Murphy) and his wife.  The child, Norbit (also Murphy) grows up with an adorable little girl, Kate (Thandie Newton—adult Kate), whom he marries under a tree, using ring pop suckers as wedding rings. But shortly thereafter, Kate gets adopted, leaving Norbit to fend for himself … that is, until he meets Rasputia (also Murphy as adult Rasputia), a fat girl who learned how to bully people from her mafia-type family that includes three giant, scary brothers.

Norbit grows up and stays in the same town as the orphanage, dating Rasputia, and finally getting threatened and cajoled into marrying her. Rasputia’s brothers assure Norbit that if they find out their sister’s feelings have even been hurt, limbs will be broken. At the wedding, Mr. Wong does a roast and calls Rasputia a gorilla.  He says he’s just kidding, of course.

Lest anyone feel sorry for the 300-pound mafia woman, however, Rasputia will quickly turn anyone’s pity to hatred. She is rude, demanding, controlling, and a total diva goddess who insists on getting her way through brute force. And to top it off, though she calls herself a Christian, she’s very immoral. Norbit comes home one day to find her in bed with her aerobics instructor. She also has quite a problem with her potty-mouth!

Just when Norbit’s at his lowest point of depression, the now-grown, beautiful Kate comes back into town. It turns out that she wants to buy the orphanage from the aging Mr. Wong and run it with the profits she’s earned in business.  She asks Norbit to help her, and he looks forward to a nice dinner with his old friend.  Little does Kate or Norbit know, however, that Rasputia’s wicked brothers are also trying to buy the orphanage—on mafia terms—in order to turn it into a strip club called “Nippleopolis.” Yes, you read right.

The brothers devise a plan to have the simple-minded Norbit get Kate to sign the papers that would give them control, and Norbit would be glad to dump his wife and team up with Kate, but several factors begin to complicate the plot. There’s Kate’s fiancé (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who shows up with his own ideas, and there’s the fact that Rasputia might be pregnant. (But who could tell?)  It will take a whole new level of backbone if Norbit is going to rise up, confront his scary wife and her mafia family, express his feelings to Kate, and figure out and stop the terrible plan that could ruin the orphanage.

There are some funny moments in Norbit.  Eddie Murphy loves playing multiple roles and is especially good at playing his own hideous wife, Rasputia. He wears a very realistic fat suit that at one point shows more posterior than we really need to see in a thong bikini. In fact, Rasputia is so overweight that in one of the scenes the water park attendant asks her if she’s wearing any bottoms at all. She has to lift her massive stomach to show him.

Other characters don’t work so well.  Thandie Newton looks white as an adult, though she looked black as a child, and she looks really anorexic (or is that just in contrast to Rasputia?) Though Norbit does evoke laughs, overweight women will be offended by the movie’s constant jokes and shticks about fatness.  It is truly overdone.

The worst part about the movie is the language, which is way more characteristic of Murphy’s older, non-kid movies. I stopped counting obscenities after about fifty. Seriously. To top it off, there is sex and nudity, and two of the side characters are former pimps, who give a wedding party with a singing, dancing lesson about condoms. Yeah.

Norbit might have been cute if they had cut out all the foul language, disparaging ridiculing of fatness, portrayals of mafia torture, pimps, sex, and nudity, but the remaining movie would have only been about twelve minutes long.

AUDIENCE:  Older teens and adults

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Plenty, at bars.
  • Language:  Excessive.  Over 50 obscenities.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Sexual affair depicted with man and woman caught in bed together.  Rear male nudity.  A woman's breasts are barely covered. 
  • Violence:  Comedic mafia violence, torture.