Starring Eddie Murphy, Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Terry Crews
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some nudity and language
Norbit is exactly what you think it will be. If you saw the trailers or the ads then you won't be surprised one bit when you head to the theater to see it. There are some decent jokes in the film that didn't make the ad campaign, but none of these jokes will amaze you. You might still laugh, but it won't be one of those deep, hearty laughs, it will just be one of those light laughs that you give for something that can simply be classified as amusing. Norbit is sadly a film experience that will feel much too familar.
Just when we thought we knew exactly what Eddie Murphy's career had become, he threw us a curveball with his Academy Award nominated performance in Dreamgirls (which I still haven't seen, but would like to). And just when we thought that this kind of role might signal a new direction for the racy comedian turned family movie actor turned Academy Award favorite, he reverted back to that time period in his career that marked his transition from racy comedian to family movie actor, the time in his career after the Beverly Hills Cop movies, but before Daddy Day Care when he made such lame films as Metro and Vampire in Brooklyn, and gave us Norbit. That time in his career was often marked with films that weren't very creative and seemed more like the work of much lesser comedians, rather than the work of a comedic genius like Eddie Murphy, and I think that the same can definitely be said about Norbit. There is very little about this film that could be described as "new" or "different."
The story, which centers around the lovable, but unlucky Norbit and his quest to renew his love affair with the infinitely more attractive love of his life, Kate, who in standard fashion has a horrible, son-of-a-bitch fiancee, is a story that is pretty much as old as Eddie Murphy himself, so that is a strike against it. We've also seen movies with Eddie Murphy dressed up in funny makeup, playing many different roles, some of which are women. The film did add the rarely used "bad girlfriend" character, but since that part was played by a man (Eddie Murphy himself), then it kind of doesn't count. Basically this movie is just The Nutty Professor, except there aren't as many fart jokes, Murphy doesn't play quite as many characters, and the main character's flaw is that he's ugly instead of being fat. Oh yeah, and its just not as funny. That's kind of a big difference; and kind of an important one.
While it was disappointing to see that Eddie Murphy will likely never be the brilliant comedian that he once was, I think the greatest disappointment for this movie was that it couldn't have come out after the Oscars so that it could have been advertised as starring Academy Award winner, Eddie Murphy, thus unseating last year's Best Actress winner, Rachel Weisz, as the holder of the funniest potential use of their Oscar winning status (last year I joked that they could now advertise one of the many cable showings of The Mummy as starring Academy Award winner, Rachel Weisz). Although really, there's no way it would be funnier to hear Norbit, starring Academy Award winner, Eddie Murphy, than The Adventures of Pluto Nash, starring Academy Award winner, Eddie Murphy. Anyone who saw that film had to be sure of one thing; that no one associated with that film would ever win an Oscar. And pretty soon, that impossibility, will become reality. That Oscar though will not make either that hideously awful film, or the mediocre Norbit any better. Some things, just can't be changed.