Norbit (Eddie Murphy) has never had it easy. As a baby, he was abandoned on the steps of a Chinese restaurant/orphanage and raised by Mr. Wong (Eddie Murphy). Things get worse when hes forced into marriage by the mean, junk food-chugging queen, Rasputia (Eddie Murphy). Just when Norbits hanging by his last thread, his childhood sweetheart, Kate (Thandie Newton), moves back to town. In the comedy Norbit, hell show them all that nice guys sometimes finish first.
Eddie Murphy stars and stars in this very broad and raucous comedy that finds the Oscar-nominated Dreamgirls
actor revisiting the multiple-character shtick that worked so well for him in Coming to America
and The Nutty Professor
. The latter's makeup-effects artist, Rick Baker, once again transforms Murphy into a variety of grotesques and caricatures, including the hugely fat, monstrous Rasputia, the Asian Mr. Wong, and the timorous Norbit, a nervous orphan raised by Wong and married to Rasputia. The latter, a member of a construction family with a plan to turn Wong's orphanage into a strip club, is a relentlessly narcissistic shrew who puts the screws on Norbit at every turn, especially when he rediscovers his love for an old friend, Kate (Thandie Newton). Kate's wish to buy and maintain the orphanage herself is secretly compromised by her fiancé (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), who is in cahoots with Rasputia's family and using Norbit to further their agenda.
Extraordinarily silly, frequently crude and mean-spirited to an extreme, Norbit is far more sour than The Nutty Professor. But there are moments of inspiration, especially a wedding interrupted by wannabe pimps who launch a profane gospel groove, and a dog that talks to Norbit while he is semi-conscious. For the most part, though, Norbit impresses as a technical marvel utilizing careful shot design and skillful editing. Murphy participates in several remarkable, three-character scenes in which he happens to be all three characters, and those moments move so briskly it's easy to forget one is looking at a comic stunt. --Tom Keogh
Stills from Norbit (click for larger image)