Cuba Gooding Jr.
Directed by Brian Robbins
Makeup Effects by Rick Baker
I once posted the Ten Worst Reviewed Movies from the first half of 2007. I had just reviewed The Reaping a few days before that list appeared. The Reaping had earned a prominent spot at number 4 on the list with a 7% approval rating right ahead (or behind if you want to luck at it that way) of Norbit which was in the rarified air of 9 per cent. But as the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. For instance my brother can’t understand why I and so many others absolutely abhor From Justin to Kelly. A movie I once reviewed for IMDB, and having sold my only copy after writing it, I doubt I’ll be able to revisit that experience. Not that I wante to. It’s kind of like getting an Ebola virus, finding a cure, then asking for the disease again just to be sure the cure worked.
Although my final grade for The Reaping was a D+ because I had to lower the grade on a technicality, the actual review for most of the movie was a C+. But still, I believe my C+ would count as a totally negative review at RT. So in essence, a film could get an awful lot of C+’s from critics, but they would still be counted as being negative overall. So while I’m sure that there will be those who believe The Reaping was one of the worst movies of the year, I probably wouldn’t be one of them.
So when it came time for me to view Norbit, a film which I had read nothing but awful things about, there was still a chance that at the worst, it could really be an average film that I might like somewhat. It could be that Norbit no more deserved to be worst movie number five than The Reaping deserved to be number four. And after watching Norbit, I can say in all honesty that not only did it not deserve to be number five, it should be on a list by itself, in a class all by itself. In other words, Rotten Tomatoes should make a new list of those films most resembling a pile of shit and place Norbit in the number one position all by itself. Was it really that bad? No, it was worse than that but I have no other adjectives that I can use without being booted off blogger for setting a new low in obscene words and a new high in number of times used. Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a new entry on my all time worst list and thy name is Norbit.
I don’t know how or why Eddie Murphy picks his material, but maybe he knows what he’s doing and I just don’t know what I’m viewing. After all, Norbit did gross close to 35 million on its opening weekend and was just five million shy of a hundred million over all before it finally got kicked out of theaters. And there have been some awfully bad movies that have become pretty big hits. But 51 percent voted for Bush years ago so I guess you can chalk Norbit’s success up to the fact that some peoples trash is everybody else’s misery.
And the thing of it is, Norbit wastes no time in letting you know that despite its brisk hour and forty minute running time you are in for a very long night.
The film opens with Eddie Murphy as Norbit narrating the story of his early childhood. He is musing as to why his parents might have left him at an orphanage and how they might have picked the best orphanage they could possibly find. As the narration continues, we watch as a car speeds down the road, swings into the parking lot of what looks to be a Chinese restaurant, and tosses a package out the window that bounces across the pavement. The package turns out to be the infant, Norbit. I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult see the fun in tossing a baby out of a car window, even if I had known beforehand that it’s the main character of a film that is going to cause me an evening of misery and stomach indigestion.
As it turns out, the Chinese Restaurant is a combination Restaurant/Orphanage where the kids work and the kids play. It is run by a Mr. Wong (Played by Eddie Murphy. Make-up by Rick Baker) who promptly tells the infant that he’s black and he’s ugly so that’s two strikes against him. And Mr. Wong is supposed to be one of the more lovable characters.
Seconds later with the narration continuing, the credits still going on, and Norbert telling us about their pets at the orphanage, we see him several years later petting a duck while Mr. Wong prepares a meal nearby. Mr. Wong picks up the duck, chops it’s head off and gives Norbit the head to play with. That’ll have you rolling in the aisles, won’t it?
Right after that we get another scene of the orphan kids carrying a wooden whale across the lot while Mr. Wong uses it for target practice by throwing a harpoon at it, just missing Norbit’s head. It was at this point that I came close to taking the movie out because I don’t care who you are or what the movie is about. Child abuse is not funny. But having said I would review it, I grudgingly stuck with it.
With Norbit still narrating and the credits fading in and out we finally get a few seconds of relief from the crude and the cruel as Norbit tells us about his friendship with Kate (played here by China Anderson, Played as an adult by Thandie Newton). But even this thirty seconds of story can’t escape the crude stupidity (it is not humor, and if you think it is go away) as we see the two of them at about age six sitting side by side on the toilet holding hands and Norbit tells us they even get to poopie together.
But soon, Kate is adopted and Norbit is not. When Norbit turns nine we finally meet Rasputia (played at age 9 by Lindsey Sims-Lewis, age 17 by Yves Lola St. Vill, and as an adult by Eddie Murphy, makeup by Rick Baker). She saves Norbit from being pounded by a couple of schoolyard bullies but afterwards proceeds to make Norbit her bitch. So for the next hour and thirty five minutes we are subjected to witnessing how many different ways Rasputia and her brothers can abuse Norbit and everybody else in the movie as well, and those in the audience unfortunate enough to bare witness to this crap.
Norbit and Rasputia grow up, and as they head to the altar the opening credits have finally run their course. Yep, you read that right so you know it is going to be a long long way to the finish line.
Laugh as you watch Rasputia’ s brothers shake down everybody in town for some money including picking one old guy up and dumping his head in spaghetti sauce.
Go into hysterics not once but four different times as you watch Rasputia smash Norbit into the bed.
You’ll shed tears of laughter as you watch Rasputia run down an old lady’s puppy with her car! Get a belly laugh as Rasputia smashes into the mail man! Feel the mirth as Rasputia fights with kids in a giant air mattress ride! Your sides will be splitting as you watch scene after scene of Rasputia hogging the queen size bed from Norbit! By now you should have the idea and if you really want to punish someone that you hate, than I suggest you rent the film tie them to a chair and make them watch it. In between the abuse, you will get more fat jokes and more fat stunts and more ridicule of overweight people than you ever thought possible to squeeze into one single movie.
I’m sure you are thinking that there has to be a plot in here of some kind. In a movie like this that isn’t necessarily so but we do get one even if it isn’t much. Kate, she being the long lost love of Norbit’s potty training, returns to town just as she is about to be married to Deion Hughes (Cuba Gooding Jr.). Her idea is to take over the Chinese Restaurant/Orphanage from Mr. Wong and make it a better place for the kids. At the same time, Rasputia’s Brothers want to get their hands on the orphanage so that they can turn it into a strip joint called the Nipplopolous. (Yes, it means exactly what it looks like it means.) And of course Norbit is still in love with Kate, and although she won’t admit it Kate is still in love with him even though they were about five or six when they parted. I guess that’s the effect having to poopie together will have on your love life. So can Norbit escape the clutches of Rasputia, win Kate over, and save the orphanage before you grab the movie out of the DVD player smash it into pieces and mail it back to Netflix so that no other customers will become a victim of senseless torture? Only you can answer that.
It’s hard to believe that years ago Eddie Murphy once starred in films that I liked. As a matter of fact, Trading Places is one of my favorite comedies of all times even if I still don’t know exactly what was happening on the trading floor. I actually liked the first Beverly Hills Cop movie, although the same certainly can’t be said for any of the sequels. And I liked the turn he did with Nick Nolte in 48 Hours. When Eddie plays an animated donkey or a dragon, he’s off the charts. But other than that there is nothing else that he has done recently other than his co-starring role in Dream Girls that has entertained me. At least most of the family films such as Daddy Day Care and Haunted Mansion can be tolerated somewhat if your kids like them. But as far as I’m concerned, there is not one second of redeeming value in Norbit for your Grandparents, you, your kids, or even your pet rat if you have one. You would have thought Murphy would have gotten over any hang-ups he has about overweight people after the two Nutty Professor Movies, but I guess not since he has broadened his psychosis and horizons by ridiculing overweight females as well. He’s an equal opportunity offender.
Maybe he thought Rick Baker’s makeup effects would hide him from this disaster. They did not.
There was a lot of talk going around that the previews for Norbit may have cost Murphy the Oscar for Dream Girls. I couldn’t understand why anybody would not vote for someone just because they made a bad movie. It didn’t seem fair somehow. Now having watched it, I can understand why.
Somebody had to be punished for this mess and since Murphy was Producer, writer, and played three roles in it, he was as good of a candidate as any and paybacks are hell. Murphy should have taken a tip from Cuba Gooding. First you win the Oscar and then you start making the crappy and worthless movies like this one. As Roger Ebert might say, “I hated, hated, hated, hated, hated, hated, hated, hated every single crappy frame of this movie one hundred times over.” So how do you rate a movie like this? My lowest grade has always been an F, but even that is too good for this. So since I can’t give you an F, I have no choice but to institute an entirely new award just for movies like this one. Congratulations for being the first recipient of the Poo Poo On You - Movie Award. It is well deserved. (Clyde note: This was in fact the first film I gave this award to. Although I have been moving the films from the old blog in the order listed, they are not in the order originally posted due to the fact that during a change in the template the format went haywire and each article had to be fixed and reposted at that time in the order of repair.)