Paramount // 2007 // 102 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // November 29th, 2007
"Have you ever made a really big mistake?"
Yeah, I did when I invited this mess of a movie into my case docket.
Norbit (Eddie Murphy, The Nutty Professor) began his life as a baby being tossed out of a moving car, only to be found by Mr. Wong (Murphy again), who operates a double-duty Chinese restaurant and orphanage. As a child, Norbit befriends the fetching Kate, a charming girl who is soon adopted. Now spindly Norbit must try to fend off the orphanage bullies with little success until he meets the portly Rasputia. Ultimately, the two become adults and marry (with Murphy playing the role of Rasputia in oversized adulthood). Rasputia has become quite abusive of Norbit, as are her brothers, who run the local crime syndicate. Kate (Thandie Newton, Crash) returns unexpectedly, all grown up and intent upon buying the Chinese orphanage from Mr. Wong. Rasputia and her brothers, however, have plans to secure Wong's building for purposes of opening a strip club. The abusiveness escalates as Norbit is torn between Kate and Rasputia.
Even in print, it's clear this story won't work. It's a tired premise that has been done far too many times and, in this treatment, the only promise of originality was to come from the fact that Murphy would be playing multiple roles concurrently -- wait, he's done that several times already. OK -- so this will be groundbreaking in that Murphy would amazingly morph into an excessively obese person -- wait, he's done that a couple of times, too. How about crass humor and plenty of fart gags? Check, done that. Really, then, there's nothing new here except how low the humor drags its knuckles along the road of tasteless and abusive comedy. It fails to be funny -- ever -- and offers no redeeming qualities to anyone involved in the production. It's a circus of victims, ultimately, both in front of and behind the camera.
Clearly, a key victim of this rotund waste of time is master makeup artist Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London). Baker achieved amazing transformations of Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor and his work here is supremely impressive. Unfortunately, the context here robs Baker of proper adulation and, for his sake, he should think twice before signing on to another Murphy project.
Of course, the ultimate victim of this cinematic crime is the viewer. The mean-spiritedness of the picture, one that enjoys exploiting the theme of spousal abuse, coupled with its base humor and lack of thoughtful comedic execution makes this an unpleasant experience from start to finish.
Available on Blu-ray disc, the 1080p / AVC encode looks good, technically. That is, although you'll find a crisp image awaiting you, excellent with detail and well-rendered colors, you'll nonetheless have to suffer through the content if you want to take a look. The audio is offered in a suitable Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that feels routine here -- nothing technically lacking yet nothing worth making special note of, either. The special features here seem like a quick cobbling of material presented merely to lure and dupe potential renters or purchasers. The several featurettes are of some interest, including interviews with the cast and crew, a look at Baker's prosthetics work, and the film's stunts, but none of this can make the overall viewing experience worthwhile. A dull "mock infomercial" fails to entertain and the selection of deleted scenes only makes us wish more of the film proper had been relegated to the cutting-room floor. A theatrical trailer is present, serving as a warning, not an encouragement, for the picture.
Technically, Norbit performs well both in on-screen and in HD execution. Unfortunately, any good work that had been put into this production is woefully lost at the hands of an unfunny joke gone too far.
This film is so guilty it's not funny. Really, it's not.
Review content copyright © 2007 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* "The Making of Norbit"
* "Man of a Thousand Faces"
* "The Stunts of Norbit"
* Deleted Scenes
* Power Tap Mock Infomercial
* Photo Gallery
* Theatrical Trailer
* Official Site