Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Norbit

24 minutes. That's how far into the Eddie Murphy "comedy" Norbit (2007) I was before I shut it off. I tried later to resume watching it but decided rather quickly life's too short and took the DVD out of the player.

I'm doing something I've never done before. I'm writing about a movie I didn't finish. Let's put this into context: I have reviewed my share of bad movies: Beverly Hills Ninja, Howard the Duck, Troll 2, Batman and Robin, to name a few. Right now, I would like to apologize to all those titles; I was at least able to get through them.

Even Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, when I said there was a moment that I wanted to shut the movie off after seeing (when Jack Black uses his penis to disable a security system), I look back and realize I was too hard on that movie. It was stupid, but there are a couple of funny moments and I was able to finish it. Not only is Norbit bottom-of-the-barrel, lowest-common-denominator material, it's also nasty and mean-spirited without a single redeeming quality.

Once again, Murphy uses Rick Baker's makeup prowess (the film was Oscar-nominated for best makeup) to play multiple characters: Norbit, a meek simpleton who grew up in an orphanage, Mr. Wong, the Chinese owner of the orphanage; and Rasputia, Norbit's large, monstrous wife.

Now, what do I mean by large? Well, early on, after their wedding, the movie treats us to a montage of Norbit and Rasputia in the bedroom, and each segment ends the same way: she leaps on top of Norbit, crushing him and destroying the bed. Oh wait, I forgot, on President's Day, Norbit is dressed as Abe Lincoln and Rasputia is dressed as a grateful slave. That's one of the movies jokes by the way. Also a joke: Rasputia does poorly in aerobics class because she's fat, and later, she yells at Norbit to go get her some fried chicken because she's fat. At her wedding reception, she eats a huge chunk of cake before it's been cut because she's fat. The movie never stops hammering home Rasputia's girth, demanding the audience to find hilarity in that by itself, and it's not only mean-spirited, it's lazy and repulsive. The makeup convincingly transforms Murphy into a morbidly obese Jabba lady, but when the movie shows her in various stages of undress, I really wish the filmmakers got someone less talented than Rick Baker to construct it.

And what do I mean by monstrous? Well, Rasputia is simply one of the nastiest, meanest, most disgusting characters I've ever seen in a movie. She's loud, greedy, violent, jealous, ignorant, and just plain unpleasant to be around. She treats Norbit like crap, ordering him around, controlling every aspect of his life, screeching at him when he doesn't obey perfectly, and beating him and other people up. The movie's level of humor rarely goes beyond the notion of going "Hey, look how awful Rasputia is and did we mention she's awful?"

Norbit himself is not funny; Murphy overplays the meek sweetness, and you just want to smack him for acting so dopey. As for Mr. Wong, well, at Norbit's wedding, as best man, he tells a story on stage about how as a  little boy, Norbit had a tiny penis. And Mr. Wong likes to have the children carry a cardboard whale around the backyard so he can harpoon it.

This movie is appalling, reprehensible, and nasty. As the star, and one of the writers and producers, Eddie Murphy should be ashamed for foisting this piece shit on the world.

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