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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.21%
Worth A Look: 3.77%
Average: 15.09%
Pretty Bad: 3.77%
Total Crap64.15%

4 reviews, 29 user ratings

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by brianorndorf

"The one where Eddie Murphy finally lost his mind again"
3 stars

It feels like every year I have to give Eddie Murphy the benefit of the doubt. “Norbit” returns Murphy to the arena of the wacky comedy, and while the picture isn’t nearly as uproarious as it should’ve been, it does have some inspired bits of lunacy. Just put the fact that this is Murphy’s follow-up to “Dreamgirls” behind you, and a good time might be a little easier to find.

This is the part of the review where I bemoan Eddie Murphy for picking “Norbit” to follow-up his Oscar-nominated, highly lauded work in “Dreamgirls.” To go from the lightning of James Early to the fat suit wonderland of “Norbit” is admittedly a sketchy leap of faith, but you know, Eddie Murphy is awfully good at this material. He just needs material that’s awfully good at him.

Growing up an outsider at Mr. Wong’s Chinese Food and Orphanage shop, Norbit (Eddie Murphy) faced a lifetime of loneliness. When Rasputia (Murphy again) enters his world, Norbit clings to the giant woman and becomes part of her family of hoodlums (including Terry Crews and Clifton Powell). Now married to the hideous creature, Norbit endures a daily battery of demands and threats. When Kate (Thandie Newton, terrifyingly thin here), Norbit’s old crush, enters his life again, the nerdy, lovestruck guy doesn’t know what to do with himself. This leaves Rasputia to take matters into her own hands and wreck Norbit’s happiness yet again.

Unlike other recent trainwrecks in Eddie Murphy’s career (“Daddy Day Care,” “I Spy), “Norbit” belongs almost completely to him. Outside of playing three characters, Murphy produces and co-writes (with brother Charlie) this love song to the easily intimidated. Having long ago lost is youthful sense of adventure, “Norbit” feels like an experiment on Murphy’s part to see where his mind can take him these days.

“Norbit,” during its more unbridled moments, manages to catch that elusive Murphy rage. The comedian loves to get lost in these characters, and there’s an abundance of entertainment to be found just hearing Murphy’s brain whirring underneath all the makeup.

As Norbit, Murphy transforms himself into the ultimate pushover. Embodying the freewheeling enormity of Rasputia, Murphy releases himself, taking great pride in ribbing some African-American cultural stereotypes (that blessedly don’t belong to a big momma) and embracing a virtual all-you-can-eat buffet of fat jokes. Murphy also plays Mr. Wong, and that’s the one character the actor enjoys the most. Under Rick Baker’s brilliant makeup, Murphy looks nothing like himself. If it wasn’t for his voice, Murphy could easily have passed himself off as 90-year-old Asian whaling connoisseur who embraces his racism.

Employing a sizable chunk of African-American talent (it seems Terrence Howard, Sidney Poitier, and Dave Chappelle are the only ones missing here) and working from a script that includes a pair of rib-slingin’ pimps (Eddie Griffin and Katt Williams), it might appear that hilarity is a foregone conclusion. Not so fast. Murphy holds himself back often with the writing in “Norbit” and hires the least funny and urban (if you want to get technical) director around, Brian Robbins (“The Shaggy Dog,” “Hard Ball”).

Any time “Norbit” looks set for launch to another planet, Robbins pulls the film back harshly, replacing some potentially nightmarishly hilarious moments with pedestrian ones more suited for a CW pilot. Murphy tends to encourage this behavior with his script, which reaches for an Adam Sandler mix of the absurd and the heartwarming to best play to all audiences. Much like the aggravating Sandler misfire “Click,” “Norbit” pours on the sentimentally, slowly suffocating any prayer for the film to have that crucial freedom to go anywhere it pleases.

Murphy and Robbins don’t just want a berserk comedy. They want audiences to have a real sympathy for Norbit and his trials of the heart. As with most attempts to sync up bawdy material with likeable characters, the film can’t massage either side to a satisfying end. “Norbit” ends up a patchy oddity, but remains the closest Eddie Murphy has come to recapturing his mislaid sense of danger.

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originally posted: 02/09/07 17:40:09
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User Comments

7/06/18 Amme some of it satirically funny 2 stars
11/05/15 David Hollingsworth Why? 1 stars
1/12/10 TravisN To quote Ebert: "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated hated this movie." 1 stars
9/26/08 Shaun Wallner This film is hilarious!! 5 stars
7/27/08 Jeff Wilder Where have you gone Eddie Murphy? A comedy nation turns its lonely eyes to you, 1 stars
2/13/08 Anthony Feor A recycled idea that flows much better than The Klumps and is funnier. 4 stars
10/27/07 tracey chambers crap! I fell alsleep half way through 1 stars
7/24/07 Jon Crass, unfunny, cliched GARBAGE 1 stars
7/14/07 Tracey Chambers awful. what a piece of crap 1 stars
7/09/07 Total Crap How did Eddie go from Dreamgirls to NORBIT! Eddie what the fuck man!? 1 stars
7/09/07 Abs Total rubbish. i was bracing for crap so I was prepared. 1 stars
6/15/07 William Goss Moronic at best. Only Griffin provides laughs, which should alone speak volumes. 1 stars
6/15/07 Wendell O. Maness Blacks will hate this movie, I loved it! Its funny and it shows fat people, eating food. 5 stars
6/09/07 Ron Not one of Murphys best movies, but had its moments 4 stars
6/01/07 Jiz I watched Battlefield Earth start to finish, but I walked out of Norbit. 1 stars
5/03/07 Star Hey congraduation to all the people who participated on this movie.It's great movie. 5 stars
4/06/07 Caroline Maness Great movie about blacks in todays culture 5 stars
4/03/07 brent gerald mejia sr. Murphy is an OVERACTING jerk 1 stars
3/08/07 Ole Man Bourbon Rasputia was really funny, as was Wong at times, but could have been better. 3 stars
3/06/07 Chris Horrible 1 stars
2/28/07 Beau i think this is a funny movie! whats all the huff and puff about i laughed heaps!!! 5 stars
2/20/07 Carolyn Maness Great ethinic movie, saw it in Kansas City Mo 5 stars
2/14/07 The chode Complete Garbage. 1 stars
2/12/07 Grigory The problem isn't that its "hateful" or "racist" or whatever, it's that it's just unfunny. 1 stars
2/12/07 Wendell Maness I thought it a true depiction of overweight people, their ethnic place, and the way they ar 5 stars
2/11/07 johnnyfog What's with black comics dressing as fat women? 2 stars
2/11/07 Shobert Yeah, 'cause LIFE was such a masterpiece. Murphy, just give it up! 1 stars
2/09/07 Sal I noticed Scott didn't like 'Life' that explains this poor review 3 stars
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  09-Feb-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Jun-2007

  09-Mar-2007 (12A)
  DVD: 09-Jul-2007

  22-Feb-2007 (M)

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