Sunday, 7 June 2020

Netflix And Chill: Norbit (2007)

This is where my brain takes me, and I hate it as much as you do. I had seen Norbit many years ago, and I remembered not liking it. I couldn't find anywhere I had reviewed or rated it, however, since my reformed completist attitude to logging my movie viewings on both IMDb and Letterboxd. I saw it was on Netflix and figured I might as well give it a go.

Ouch.

The basic plot revolves around Norbit (Eddie Murphy), a timid young man who was abandoned as a baby and taken in by Mr. Wong (also, ummmmm, Eddie Murphy, in a bit of stunt casting more troubling than most of his multiple roles over the years). Norbit ends up in a relationship with Rasputia, an obnoxious and overpowering woman who doesn't really treat Norbit as he might deserve to be treated. And the adult Rasputia is played by, yes, Eddie Murphy. Things start to look different when an old flame, Kate (Thandie Newton), comes back to town.

The first of a few movies that Murphy starred in while being directed by Brian Robbins, this remains arguably the worst of their collaborations, despite the stiff competition from their other outings. Based on a story by Eddie and his brother, Charlie, the screenplay was then worked on by the two of them, with additional work from Jay Scherick and David Ronn, a writing duo who have a filmography most politely described as a bit hit and miss. Nobody involved can really make the material more palatable, which leaves the comedy falling flat at almost every turn.

Murphy is decidedly okay as Norbit, but only because he's more relatable and human in that incarnation than he is in either the role of Rasputia or Mr. Wong, with both of them being exaggerated caricatures designed to get easy laughs from the low-hanging fruit. Fortunately, although Murphy gets the lion's share of the screentime, there's some enjoyment to be had with the supporting cast. Terry Crews is as fun as ever, Eddie Griffin and Katt Williams have a couple of fun moments, Marlon Wayans is more amusing here than he has been in anything else from the last couple of decades, and Newton is an appealing romantic interest. You also have Cuba Gooding Jr. here, and he ends up being a LOT of fun as the man due to marry Newton, the fly in the ointment of Norbit's potential happiness.

Any fan of Murphy nowadays will know that they have to suffer through some real clunkers if they are completing a journey through his filmography. I've not seen EVERYTHING yet (that Pluto Nash movie has never felt like a high priority), but it's hard to think of anything he could do that is worse than this. It's not funny, it's full of characters you don't ever really care about, and it's just another excuse for Murphy to get made up and act in scenes alongside himself. And did I mention that it wasn't funny? Because it REALLY isn't.

2/10

https://ko-fi.com/kevinmatthews


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