Movie Review: "Norbit" (2007)
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers.
Eddie Murphy, your retirement years are calling for you. Just when enough is never enough, he went ahead and made "Norbit" in 2007. This movie is a discrimination to black cinema (R.I.P.) as well as the entire history of cinema in general. You might as well go to the movie theater and throw poop at the blank screen, then stare at it for two hours. I mean that's the same thing as watching a movie like "Norbit".
The plot of "Norbit" is basically this... Norbit is a nerdy kid who ends up in an orphanage ran by his one and only father figure Mr. Wong, he meets a young girl named Kate whom he has a lot in common with but the two are later separated when Kate has to move to another state. Instead, Norbit soon ends up with some fat and demeaning girl named Rasputia (Can we get anymore ghetto than this?).
Rasputia offers Norbit protection from bullies as long as he stays faithful to her. The two grow up together, Rasputia's overbearing ways become worse to the point of controlling Norbit's life, but he ends up marrying her because her three gangsta brothers pressure him into doing it. Everyone in town is afraid of these guys, they have a huge hand in the town's real estate business.
Rasputia makes Norbit's life a living hell. She's nosy, disgusting, degrading, cruel, insulting... Hold on, let me get my thesaurus for more words... Basically, the filmmakers throw every possible negative thing in the book into her personality, she has zero redeeming qualities. This woman is even cheating on Norbit with a bisexual dancer (whom in return is just using Rasputia's brothers to fund his workout gig).
Soon enough, Norbit gets excited when an older Kate (Thandie Newton) returns to town but then finds out she's engaged to some sneaky businessman named Deion (Cuba Gooding Jr.). Nevertheless, Norbit and Kate's friendship continues to blossom, aided by the help of two textbook ghetto pimps. However, Rasputia is not going to make things so easy for Norbit. Meanwhile, Rasputia's brothers are teaming up with Deion to cook up some real estate scheme that involves turning Mr. Wong's orphanage into a strip club.
Oh Lord, I'm going to need massive doses of drugs for this one. Here we go...
I hate to say this but Eddie Murphy's standards of comedy have substantially lowered since after the millennium hit.
Whatever happened to the Eddie Murphy who starred in "48 Hours", "Boomerang", "Trading Places", "Coming to America", "Bowfinger", "Life", and "Beverly Hills Cop"? What happened to that guy?
Nowadays, Eddie Murphy's humor plays upon stereotypes, racist jokes, and gross-out humor. And guys like Martin Lawrence seem to be following suit. What a tragedy. Oh yeah, and the dual role thing is getting very annoying. That was so 1996-2000 (i.e. "The Nutty Professor" era), can't we please move on to something NEW?
What is this obsession he has with dual roles? They're all the same in every movie he does, just about, it's nothing different. In "Norbit", he plays about three different roles -- the titular character himself, Rasputia, and Mr. Wong. I guess I can let him off the hook for playing Rasputia based on his past experiences with transvestites, but Mr. Wong!? Seriously? Did he have to go down the Asian route?
And They Lived Happily Ever After... Again
As if the rest of the movie wasn't as tacky and superficial enough, the filmmakers decided to shove in a lifeless and predictable love story between Norbit and Kate. The gimmicks here have been played time and time again.
Sometimes it will work if the characters have a little bit of depth to them or if they're played in an interesting way ("The Wedding Singer" anyone?), but this crap is purely asinine. It's dog feces, let's put it that way. Norbit is the nerdy guy who's lacking the self-confidence to take things forward while Kate is the spoiled sweet girl who wouldn't know true love if Rasputia had farted in her face.
As soon as I found out that this chick was engaged to Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character, I immediately said to myself:
There's going to be a church scene where Norbit is talked into rehearsing the groom's role in the wedding.
Low and behold, I was right. First, they are on a 'friendly' date together, then somehow they end up at a church where the friendly priest chit chats with them and insists that Kate rehearse the wedding since she's already there. But wait, Deion is not here, what do we do? Oh, we'll just have Norbit play his role for the rehearsal.
Gee, I didn't see that one coming. Wait, why are they at the church again? I thought they were on a date. What kind of a date are you running if you take time out of the date to stop by your friend's work place to say hello (and then get talked into doing something else with them)?
Nerds, Pimps, and Fat People... Oh my!
The biggest (no pun intended) issues in "Norbit" are the humor (as I've mentioned above) and the stereotypes which these characters are derived from. "Norbit" is filled to the brim with a handful of stereotypes. I will try to list several of them off the top of my head:
- Rasputia -- The fat angry black woman who has no heart or soul.
- Norbit -- The skinny and nerdy black guy who has a heart of gold.
- Kate -- The sweet yet kind and sophisticated black girl who has not been "ghetto-ized" yet.
- Pope Sweet Jesus and Lord have Mercy -- The two ghetto black pimps, who of course have to be played by none other than Katt Williams and Eddie 'Aren't You Getting Too Friggin' Old For This' Griffin.
- Mr. Wong -- The wise Asian mentor... yawn.
- Buster Perkin -- The bisexual male dance instructor.
- And lastly, brain-dead beautiful girls who will do anything for pimps. Quote on quote, "I wanna be a (CENSORED), how do I apply?"
Never is there any attempt to make these characters anything above and beyond what they already are. Take Kate for instance, she is completely nice, right down to her clean and polished fingernails, because she is Norbit's true love, get it? She has no quirks or annoying habits, nothing like that.
Rasputia is written as an insult to fat people in general because that's what she is. During her wedding day with Norbit, it turns out that Rasputia snatched the entire wedding cake and is caught eating a huge chunk of it. It doesn't get any lower or seedier than this, folks. As if any bride in her rightful mind (fat or skinny) would have the nerve to do such an embarrassing act on her wedding day.
Then Mr. Wong has the nerve to jokingly call Rasputia a gorilla during the wedding reception. This is the guy who mentored Norbit since he was a kid, they're supposed to have a tight relationship together, yet he insults his wife during their wedding? In other words, they decided to have Mr. Wong step 'out of character' just degrade fat people one joke further. How nice.
Wait, forget that, how about the bad guys' scheme to buy out the orphanage and turn it into a strip joint. Because a strip club is B-A-D and an orphanage is G-O-O-D. How many times does the movie have to hit us over the head with this? I have a good idea, what about a condominium instead? Research Michael Bloomberg's destruction of the old New York City for reference.
Just bulldoze a well-respected pizza parlor or movie theater and replace it with some condos, make sure to raise the rent prices extremely high so that the working class people never live there, and call it a day. It's the same concept, but it's not as corny and gimmicky as Orphanage vs. Strip Joint.
Last but not least, why is it that all the bad guys in this movie are the ones with southern accents (minus the pretty boy fiance played by Cuba Gooding Jr.)? Everyone else in this movie is soft-spoken and down to Earth. Coincidence?
Random Things That Make No Sense
- During their childhood, we learn that Norbit and Kate used to poop together in the same bathroom while holding hands. So what is this, like a unisex bathroom at school? Or did they just decide on whether they were going to do it in the boys room or the girls room?
- Young Norbit keeps a ring lollipop from Kate after she moves away, but he puts it under his pillow before he goes to sleep. Perhaps he was expecting little visitors after bedtime?
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