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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Brian Robbins
Cast:
Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Cuba Gooding Jr., Eddie Griffin, Marlon Wayans, Terry Crews, Clifton Powell, Mighty Rasta
Writing Credits:
Eddie Murphy (and story), Charles Q. Murphy (and story), Jay Scherick, David Ronn

Tagline:
Have you ever made a really big mistake?

Synopsis:
It's Eddie Murphy "as you love to see him!" in this gut-bustingly funny movie that displays his comedic genius in multiple roles! Murphy stars as mild-mannered Norbit, who gets a second chance at love with his childhood sweetheart, Kate (Thandie Newton). But there's one huge obstacle: jealous, mean-tempered Rasputia (Murphy), who wants Norbit all to her sizeable self. Can Norbit win the heart of Kate ... before Rasputia puts the hurt on him? Will an all-star cast including Cuba Gooding, Jr., Marlon Wayans and Eddie Griffin, Norbit "will make you laugh 'til you cheer!"

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$34.195 million on 3136 screens.
Domestic Gross
$95.323 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 6/5/2007

Bonus:
• “The Making of Norbit” Featurette
• “Man of A Thousand Faces” Featurette
• “Power Tap” Featurette
• “The Stunts of Norbit” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Photo Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Norbit (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 22, 2007)

With 2007’s Norbit, Eddie Murphy won the battle but lost the war. On the surface, the movie became a hit, as it took in almost $100 million. However, many believe that the much-maligned film scuttled Murphy’s Oscar hopes. He earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Dreamgirls and looked likely to win – until Norbit emerged. The crude, crass clunker clearly contrasted with what voters think an Oscar winner should do, and Alan Arkin’s work in Little Miss Sunshine got him the trophy instead.

We’ll never know if Norbit actually killed Murphy’s Oscar chances, but we do know this: the movie is astonishingly unfunny. We meet the title character as a baby when he gets abandoned at the door of the Golden Wonton Orphanage. Mr. Wong (Murphy) takes in the infant and raises him among the other kids. As a kid, Norbit (Khamani Griffin) becomes best pals with a little girl named Kate (China Anderson). Unfortunately for him, Kate gets adopted and leaves him alone.

When he hits nine (Austin Reid), a new girl comes to town: plus-sized Rasputia (Lindsey Sims-Lewis). She makes him her girlfriend – whether he likes it or not – and bullies everyone she sees. At least Norbit starts to feel like part of a family as he hangs out with Rasputia and her older brothers who raise her. Their relationship continues and we meet both the adult Norbit (Murphy) and Rasputia (Murphy). He works as a bookkeeper for her brothers’ construction business and they eventually marry.

A few events conspire to affect Norbit’s life. First, Rasputia cheats on him with her “power tap” instructor Buster (Marlon Wayans). In addition, Kate (Thandie Newton) returns to town and plans to take over the orphanage. With visions of renewed love in his life, a spark returns to Norbit’s step – until he goes to lunch with her and meets her boyfriend Deion (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). The movie follows complications regarding the orphanage property as well as Norbit’s attempts to rekindle his romance with Kate and lose Rasputia.

Cabin fever makes a man do funny things. Back before Norbit hit the screens in February 2007, I thought it looked like it could be funny. After all, when Eddie Murphy plays multiple characters in a movie, he usually does well. I loved Bowfinger, and the second Nutty Professor flick was also pretty funny.

When Norbit earned scathing reviews, though, I decided to stay away – at least until the snow fell. And fell. And fell some more. After a few days stuck in my house, I felt desperate to get out and do something, so a matinee appealed to me. I’d seen most of the efforts then on the screens, so the pickings were slim. Pan’s Labyrinth sounded like the most appropriate choice, but I just wasn’t in the mood for something like that. So Norbit got the nod!

Within five minutes, I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t just fail to laugh – I actually winced at most of what I saw. I made it through about 25 minutes of Norbit before I bailed. I ditched that screen and sneaked into the one that ran Pan’s Labyrinth instead.

Since I saw less than half of it, I entertained the notion that I misjudged Norbit. Maybe it got better – or at least proved to be less horrible.

And maybe I’ll grow a second head and charge neighborhood two bits to stare at the freak. During the flick’s first scene, it immediately reminds me of 1990’s atrocious Problem Child. Another ugly, mean-spirited “comedy”, it tried to make us laugh at gags about an unwanted baby. While I’m certainly not a sensitive soul, I just don’t get what’s funny about an infant who gets thrown out of a moving car.

Matters don’t much improve from there. Norbit spans the range from “really despicable” to merely “pretty tasteless”. Much has been made of all the cruel fat jokes aimed at Rasputia. The filmmakers likely would excuse these for two reasons. First, she’s a completely horrible person, so she deserves to be the butt of nasty comments. Second, despite her overwhelming obesity, she maintains an exceedingly positive self-image and thinks of herself as a super-babe.

Those attempts to redeem the cruelty shouldn’t be accepted, especially given the preponderance of unpleasant material found elsewhere in Norbit. This is a film that makes out pimps to be paragons of the community and tells us that all women really want to be prostitutes. It depicts pretty much every group as racist and hateful and places plenty of kids in dangerous situations for laughs.

The casual racism, sexism and general meanness on display here astounds me. All that, and not a single laugh along the way! If this was another effort from the Wayans brothers ala White Chicks or Scary Movie, the absence of humor wouldn’t surprise me so much. However, Murphy possesses real talent and can do so much better than this. What in the world was he thinking?

All I can believe is that Murphy wasn’t thinking when he conjured up Norbit. Nasty, ugly and consistently unpleasant, this is a tremendously bad movie. It boasts approximately five minutes of story expanded to 102 minutes with a long, painful series of unfunny comedic bits. This may well be Murphy’s worst movie, and that’s saying something.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Norbit appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For the most part, this was a pretty good transfer, though not without concerns.

Some problems related to sharpness. Mild edge enhancement appeared, and that occasionally left the image without great definition. Much of the movie was fine, and the quality improved as it progressed. Nonetheless, I thought it sometimes looked a little too mushy. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and print flaws seemed absent.

Colors tended to favor a rather golden tint. Within those constraints, the hues seemed solid. The movie showed nice color reproduction and I encountered no problems with the tones. Blacks were deep and dense, and shadows looked clear and smooth. Only the mild issues with sharpness left this image as a “B”.

Given the comedic roots of Norbit, I expected little from its soundfield. Indeed, this was a fairly restricted soundfield that fell in line with films of this genre. The audio stayed largely focused on the front channels. Some of the Rasputia stunts added life to the track, as they opened up the spectrum. Those elements weren’t a major factor, though, and the soundscape remained simple. Music showed good stereo imaging, at least, and the general ambience was fine.

Audio quality was solid. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, and effects were clean and clear. Good low-end popped up during the Rasputia bits, as her weight pounded the bass. Music seemed lively and full as well. This never became an impressive track, but it was worth a “B”.

When we head to the extras, we start with The Making of Norbit. This 21-minute and 34-second program mixes movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and interviews. We hear from director Brian Robbins, screenwriter/producer/actor Eddie Murphy, screenwriter Charles Murphy, producer John Davis, costume designer Molly Maginnis, visual effects producer Les Hunter, special effects makeup designer Rick Baker, body double Lauren Miller, and actors Terry Crews, Clifton Powell, Thandie Newton, Michael Colyar, Anthony Russell, Lester “Rasta” Speight, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Eddie Griffin, Katt Williams, and Marlon Wayans.

“Making” looks at the project’s origins, casting, characters and performances, costumes, storyboarding and Robbins’ work on the flick, visual effects and makeup, and improvisation. Without question, the best parts of the show document the makeup and visual effects. Unfortunately, those are brief, and the rest of “Making” tends to feel fluffy and promotional. We learn a little about the movie’s creation but not enough to make this a particularly strong featurette.

Next comes the four-minute and seven-second Man of A Thousand Faces. It features Baker, Crews, Gooding, Griffin, Speight, Davis, Murphy, and Robbins. As expected, this one looks at the makeup that changed Murphy into the movie’s different characters. Unfortunately, it’s way too short and superficial. It mainly just praises Murphy and Baker, so don’t expect to learn much from it.

With Power Tap, we get a four-minute and 50-second clip that acts as an “informercial”. It “advertises” the exercise technique highlighted in the movie. It’s just as funny as the material in the flick. That’s not a compliment.

The Stunts of Norbit fills 11 minutes, 52 seconds with comments from Robbins, Davis, stunt coordinator Andy Gill, stunt double Aaron Toney, stunt/body double Virgil E. Carter, and actor Pat Crawford Brown. The featurette looks at… uh, the stunts of Norbit. Unlike the prior programs, though, it does so in a satisfying manner. We get lots of great raw footage and learn quite a lot about the challenges in the movie’s physical comedy. This becomes a solid little piece.

14 Deleted Scenes last a total of eight minutes, 12 seconds. These include “Wash Dishes” (0:17), “Chicken” (0:13), “Proposal” (0:57), “Easter Love Scene” (0:09), “Teasing Norbit” (0:47), “Golden Wonton Restaurant” (1:37), “Pick-Up Lines” (0:42), “Deion Consoles Kate” (0:31), “Ceiling Beams” (0:22), “Bike Escape” (0:28), “Pimps Heal Man” (0:25), “Pimps Heal Woman” (0:41), “Rasputia Vs, Morris the Barber” (0:19) and “Wild & Crazy” (0:40),

Given the brevity of most of those segments, perhaps they should be called “Deleted Trims”. Not a single one presents anything substantial. The most interesting clip – and I use that term loosely – comes from “Proposal”, which shows how Norbit and Rasputia got engaged. Overall, the snippets remain very forgettable.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, we find a Photo Gallery. It includes 58 shots that mix images from the set and from the movie. It’s a forgettable collection.

A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Transformers and Blades of Glory. These also appear in the Previews area along with clips for various Eddie Murphy flicks, Dreamgirls and Freedom Writers.

A few minutes into Norbit and you’ll look back longingly on Pluto Nash. A film so terrible it makes The Haunted Mansion look inspired, Norbit serves to offend and degrade but not to entertain. The DVD presents pretty good picture and audio along with average extras. If you want some laughs, stay far away from the abysmal Norbit, an early contender for the title of 2007’s worst film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.75 Stars Number of Votes: 44
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main