Norbit

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Eddie Murphy as Norbit/Rasputia/Mr. Wong
Thandie Newton as Kate Thomas
Terry Crews as Big Jack Latimore
Clifton Powell as Earl Latimore
Mighty Rasta as Blue Latimore
Cuba Gooding Jr. as Deion Hughes
Eddie Griffin as Pope Sweet Jesus
Katt Williams as Lord Have Mercy
Floyd Levine as Abe the Tailor
Anthony Russell as Giovanni
Pat Crawford Brown as Mrs. Henderson
Jeanette Miller as Mrs. Coleman
Michael Colyar as Morris the Barber
Marlon Wayans as Buster
Alexis Rhee as Mrs. Ling Ling Wong

Special Features:
14 Deleted Scenes
Man of a Thousand Faces
Power Tap (Marlon Wayans mock infomercial)
The Stunts of Norbit
The Making of Norbit
Photo Gallery
Theatrical Trailer

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 102 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“It’s Eddie Murphy “as you love to see him!” in this gut-bustingly funny movie that displays his comedic genius in multiple roles! Murphy stars as mild-mannered Norbit, who gets a second chance at love with his childhood sweetheart, Kate (Thandie Newton, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’). But there’s one huge obstacle: jealous, mean-tempered Rasputia (Murphy), who wants Norbit all to her sizeable self. Can Norbit win the heart of Kate…before Rasputia puts the hurt on him? Will an all-star cast including Cuba Gooding, Jr. (‘Jerry Maguire’), Marlon Wayans (‘White Chicks’) and Eddie Griffin (‘Date Movie’), ‘Norbit’ “will make you laugh ’til you cheer!” ”

“Norbit” is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some nudity and language.

The Movie:
If you like seeing Eddie Murphy play multiple roles in a film, you should enjoy “Norbit.” Murphy again displays his impressive acting skills in bringing to life three dramatically different characters – a nerdy black man, a large and angry black woman, and a racist elderly Asian man. You quickly forget that all three of them are the same guy and really start thinking of them as three separate people. It’s an impressive feat by Murphy, which he’s also done successfully in the “Nutty Professor” movies and “Coming to America.” A lot of that success is also attributable to Rick Baker’s impressive make-up. While Norbit himself has little more than an afro, Rasputia is a stunning example of horror make-up. Her folds of flab when wearing a bathing suit are a frightening sight to behold. The Mr. Wong make-up is also impressive as Murphy’s race and age are changed dramatically. The team of Baker and Murphy is definitely a powerful combination.

Unfortunately, most of the best scenes in this film were shown in the movie trailers. There’s not much to laugh at beyond those moments you’ve probably seen over and over in the commercials. They’re still funny, but they lose some impact.

The ending of the film was also quite disappointing. Most of the movie was build-up to the final inevitable confrontation between Norbit, Rasputia, and her brothers. Rather than having a great comedic moment, Murphy resorted to a fight scene that would make Benny Hill proud. Characters fly through the air, run in fast forward, and do other stupid things. It was like they couldn’t think of any better conclusion to the film.

I also think it would have been nice to make Rasputia have one or two redeeming qualities. She would have been a lot more interesting character. Instead she’s a one-note villainess that is only capable of abusing Norbit and little more. Her antics start getting old by the end. At least as a child, when she was defending Norbit, she was a little more lovable. (And I have to add that I feel sorry for all the young actresses that played young Rasputia in the film. They were essentially made fun of for being fat.)

I think I’m starting to understand why Murphy plays so many characters in the movie – the rest of the supporting cast is pretty weak. As pretty as Thandie Newton is, she’s completely overshadowed by Murphy. Cuba Gooding Jr. tries his best to be funny in the film but ends up being over the top. The same goes for Eddie Griffin as the resident pimp of this idyllic small town. (Come to think of it, this perfect little studio backlot town has a large number of thugs, pimps, and whores considering how nice it looks.)

Finally, this movie got me thinking about the double standards in Hollywood. When Eddie Murphy dresses as an Asian man and starts making race jokes, it’s considered comedy. If an Asian man dressed as a black man and started making jokes about African Americans, it would be called racism and you’d see Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton marching in the streets and demanding the severed head of the actor on a pike. People need to lighten up. In any case, expect protests over this movie from fat people, Chinese Americans, and anyone else offended by Murphy’s performance.

The Extras:
There is a pretty good selection of bonus features here. The following are the highlights:

14 Deleted Scenes – You’ll find 8 minutes of deleted scenes. Most of them are relatively minor. You see Norbit propose to Rasputia, more of the brothers, and more of the comical Norbit/Rasputia love scenes. Also included are awful scenes like a man peeing himself in the final fight.

Man of a Thousand Faces – This 4 minute video features Rick Baker’s makeup and discussion of Murphy’s performances.

Power Tap (Marlon Wayans mock infomercial) – This 5 minute commercial features Marlon Wayans, in character, promoting his exercise program.

The Stunts of Norbit – This video is 12 minutes long. You wouldn’t think there were that many stunts in Nobit, but this featurette shows just the opposite is true. It’s kind of amazing to see just how complicated some of the scenes were.

The Making of Norbit – This featurette is 21 minutes long and covers the writing of the script, the casting, and other such stuff. I was a bit surprised by one revelation. I kept thinking that the Rasputia fat suit looked incredibly realistic. I thought it would be awfully mean to laugh at a real actress who was that large. Well, turns out it WAS a real actress. They reveal that they had a real fat woman in the outdoor scenes and pasted Eddie Murphy’s head on the body. I feel kind of bad laughing at it now!

The Bottom Line:
“Norbit” is worth checking out just to see Eddie Murphy do his thing. And fortunately that’s enough to make it relatively easy to overlook all the other big problems with the film.

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