When I first saw the trailer for Norbit, I have to admit I was tickled, more so by the familiar antics that poke fun at weight and size. Apologies though that I'm laughing at the expense of plus sized people, and it dawns upon you if there's any valid reason why they should be constant punching bags for gags. From Shallow Hal to The Nutty Professor, it seemed that Eddie Murphy is revisiting familiar territory with prosthetics all over again, and can't get enough of piling on fake weight on himself.
Murphy again takes on multiple characters, in Norbit, Rasputia and The Golden Wanton Orphanage owner Mr Wong, I thought his politically incorrect Mr Wong was the most enjoyable amongst the three, as he had some of the best lines in the movie, especially during his toast in a wedding scene. Norbit is as plain as the character is designed to be, a meek, mild-mannered hen-pecked man, while Rasputia his wife, probably the most revolting, demeaning and vile woman you've ever come across on screen, who changes hairstyles in almost every other scene.
As the story goes, Norbit the orphan grows up to be an unassuming man, only to be taken advantage of by his wife Rasputia, who rescued him from bullies when he was a teenager. Being a significant (pun intended) other in his life, and as marriages go, that's when the real nightmare starts. When Norbit's childhood sweetheart Kate (Thandie Newton) returns to town, it's time for him to decide whether to put up with the nonsense, or try to seek out a life which should have been.
Somehow, most of the "fat" jokes were already included in the trailer, so don't expect anything more. Rather, the focus for the most parts tended to be on the romantic tangle between Norbit, Kate and Rasputia, on the premise of a grand scheme by Rasputia's brothers to gain control over the orphanage to turn it into a strip joint known as Nippleopolis. Like I mentioned about my criteria for laughs, if my tears ain't rolling, it ain't so good, and nope, while some bits were funny, they were rare occurrences. The pacing of the movie was uneven as well, with plain dramatic moments and plain, expected sub plot development.
Thandie Newton makes a comeback to the big screen after her outing in Crash, and has another role in a soon to be released movie (in Singapore) The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. I'm surprised that Cuba Gooding Jr lends his presence as the Kate's shady fiance Deion Hughes, and Marlon Wayans has a role that seemed pretty out of place as a pimp daddy.
For those who want to see Murphy tackling newer ground, head over to Dreamgirls to watch him sing and dance in a musical drama. Otherwise if you're up for some low brow nostalgia, then Norbit is the movie for you. And a pity though that the version shown here is censored at one point.