out of Five
Running time: 97
Dismal, unfunny and occasionally offensive comedy, although it does feature some flawless fat suit work.
What's it all about?
Eddie Murphy dons the fat suit again to play Rasputia, the overweight, bullying wife of nerdy Norbit (Murphy again, sporting a lisp, an afro and glasses). Norbit is content to suffer in silence until his childhood sweetheart Kate (Thandie Newton) comes back into town, intending to buy the orphanage where they grew up under the care of Mr Wong (Murphy again in oh-so-hilarious old Chinese man make-up).
However, there are several obstacles standing between Norbit and happiness with Kate, namely that she has a fiance (Cuba Gooding Jnr),
Rasputia's thuggish brother (Terry Crews) is scheming to turn the orphanage into a strip club and finally, that Rasputia doesn't intend to give him up without a fight.
With a desperately unfunny script, the film's only redeeming features are its impressive make-up work (courtesy of effects guru Rick Baker) and the fact that Eddie Griffin obligingly trots out his amusing pimp routine (from Deuce Bigalow) for the umpteenth time. Perversely, Murphy is funnier as Mr Wong than he is as Norbit and Rasputia, but there's something uncomfortably wrong about his performance.
It's not hard to see why Murphy was drawn to multi-character, fat suit-based comedy again, particularly after the success of the Nutty Professor movies. However, those pictures had something that Norbit
doesn't - jokes that were actually funny.
It says a lot about Norbit that the funniest joke involves a duck getting its head cut off and the second funniest joke (relatively
speaking) is a fart gag. It also doesn't help that Norbit himself is kind of boring and there's no chemistry at all between him and Newton, who is clearly trying too hard.
If you're not a die-hard Murphy fan, your enjoyment of Norbit will depend entirely on how funny you find fat suits and fart jokes. Worth missing.