Norbit

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Norbit
A large black woman on top of a small black man with glasses and an afro.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian Robbins
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by Eddie Murphy
Charlie Murphy
Starring
Music by David Newman
Cinematography Clark Mathis
Edited by Ned Bastille
Production
company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • February 9, 2007 (2007-02-09)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[1]
Box office $159,313,561[1]

Norbit is a 2007 American romantic comedy film directed by Brian Robbins, and written and produced by Eddie Murphy, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Thandie Newton, Terry Crews, Eddie Griffin, Katt Williams, Marlon Wayans and Cuba Gooding, Jr. It was released by DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures on February 9, 2007.

Norbit features a collaboration between Terry Crews and Marlon Wayans, reuniting them for the first time since 2004's White Chicks. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in make-up[2] and received multiple wins at the 2007 Golden Raspberry Awards. The film was negatively received by critics, but was a commercial success.

Plot[edit]

Norbit Albert Rice (Eddie Murphy) and Kate Thomas (Thandie Newton) are best friends as children at a combination Chinese restaurant and orphanage owned by their father figure, Mr. Wong (Eddie Murphy), but are separated when Kate gets adopted. While being bullied by twins on a playground one day, Norbit is saved by a tough, overweight girl named Rasputia Latimore (Eddie Murphy) who scares him into being her boyfriend. Though at first she genuinely likes Norbit and cares about him, going as far as intimidating other kids into letting Norbit play with them – Rasputia's kindness deteriorates as she grows up to be an ignorant, arrogant, vindictive, and mean-spirited woman. She eventually pressures Norbit into marrying her, and bullies, insults, and controls him to make sure that she keeps him all to herself. Norbit is also belittled by Rasputia's older brothers, Big Black Jack (Terry Crews), Blue (Lester 'Rasta' Speight), and Earl (Clifton Powell), working as a bookkeeper at their local construction company. The Latimore brothers also run a "security business" and instill fear in everyone in the town except Mr. Wong, who refuses to sell his establishment to them.

When Norbit realizes that Rasputia is cheating on him with her dance instructor Buster Perkin (Marlon Wayans), she carelessly brushes it off like nothing happened. Norbit vents out his anger over Rasputia's infidelity at a puppet show for the children at the orphanage. Unexpectedly, during the show, Norbit sees Kate for the first time since childhood. Stunned by her return, his affection for her reignites while he learns that she is buying Mr. Wong's orphanage, but he is disappointed to find out that she is now engaged to Deion Hughes (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). With help from his two ex-pimp friends Pope Sweet Jesus (Eddie Griffin) and Lord Have Mercy (Katt Williams) and the other townspeople, Norbit manages to meet with Kate without Rasputia's knowledge. Revealed to be a crooked businessman and gold digger, Deion helps the Latimore brothers in their plan to turn the restaurant/orphanage into a strip club to get a cut in the profit. The Latimore brothers dupe Norbit into getting Kate to sign papers to renew the restaurant's liquor license and put it in the Latimores' name. Norbit's meeting with Kate leads to him helping her rehearse her wedding, where a kiss between the two of them causes her to reconsider the marriage. When Norbit returns home, he learns that Rasputia somehow witnessed the whole thing and she threatens to kill Kate if she ever sees Norbit with her again.

Kate confronts Norbit after finding out about the deal and sees him in the window of the basement, where he has been locked away by a vengeful Rasputia. Norbit tells Kate that he doesn't care what the Latimores are going to do and demands that she leave, in an attempt to drive her away to save her from Rasputia. Rasputia adds that Norbit played Kate and has been setting her up since the first day she came back to town. Fed up with the stress he is under, Norbit decides to leave town for good, but first tries to warn Kate about Deion, but she ignores him. After that, the Latimores have him locked in the basement again and Blue is chosen to stay and keep him from escaping. After the other Latimores leave to go to the wedding, Norbit escapes from the basement and past Blue's guard and races to the church on his bike. Though the Latimores attempt to stop him, Norbit reaches the church. Unfortunately, his proof of Deion's divorce settlements exposing Deion's gold digging were destroyed in the process, due to his falling in a pond while escaping the Latimores. However, Deion's ex-wives and children arrive in person, as Norbit had arranged to provide further proof of Deion's wrongdoings. Furious that their plans are ruined, the Latimore brothers attempt to kill Norbit before finding the townspeople rallying up against them. Rasputia fights her way through the crowd and almost kills Norbit, but she runs off after being harpooned in the buttocks by Mr. Wong. Her brothers are chased out of town. After Kate avows her love for Norbit with a passionate kiss, the two reconcile.

Kate and Norbit buy the orphanage and get married under the same tree where they once played as children. Rasputia and her brothers move to Mexico and open up El Nipplopolis, where Rasputia becomes their most popular and lucrative stripper.

Cast[edit]

  • Eddie Murphy as:
    • Norbit Albert Rice, a shy but lovable nerd.
    • Rasputia Latimore, a morbidly obese, overpossessive, and arrogant woman, who is Norbit's wife.
    • Mr. Hangten Wong, the owner of the orphanage where Norbit and Kate grew up.
      • Khamani Griffin as young Norbit (age 5)
      • Austin Reid as young Norbit (age 10)
      • Jonathan Robinson as young Norbit (age 17)
      • Lindsey Sims-Lewis as young Rasputia (age 10)
      • Yves Lola St. Vil as young Rasputia (age 17)
  • Thandie Newton as Kate Thomas, Norbit's friend, in whom he has a romantic interest.
    • China Anderson as young Kate (age 5)
  • Terry Crews as Big Black Jack, Rasputia's eldest brother.
  • Clifton Powell as Earl, Rasputia's youngest brother.
  • Lester 'Rasta' Speight as Blue, Rasputia's middle brother.
  • Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Deion Hughes, Kate's fiancé who has several children with different mothers.
  • Eddie Griffin as Pope Sweet Jesus, an ex-pimp and Norbit's friend.
  • Katt Williams as Lord Have Mercy, Pope's sidekick and friend.
  • Floyd Levine as Abe, the tailor.
  • Anthony Russell as Sam Giovanni, the Italian owner of Giovanni's.
  • Pat Crawford Brown as Mrs. Henderson, an elderly woman.
  • Jeanette Miller as Mrs. Coleman, an elderly woman.
  • Michael Colyar as Morris, the barber.
  • Marlon Wayans as Buster "Bust-A-Move" Perkin, Rasputia's tap dancing instructor with whom Rasputia has an affair.
  • Alexis Rhee as Mrs. Ling Ling Wong, Mr. Wong's wife.
  • Kristen Schaal as Event Organizer
  • Charlie Murphy (voice) as Lloyd the Dog, Mrs. Henderson's pet Pug dog (credited as Floyd the Dog).

Production[edit]

Norbit was the first of three films where director Brian Robbins and Eddie Murphy worked together. They later collaborated for Meet Dave and A Thousand Words. In the case of the first two movies he starred in working with Robbins, Murphy did multiple characters and worked in body costumes.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Despite its box office success, Norbit was nearly universally panned, given only a few positive reviews upon its release. The Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 9% positive reviews, based on 123 critics (11 positive, 112 negative). The site's consensus states: "Coming off his Oscar-nominated performance in Dreamgirls, the talented-but-inconsistent Eddie Murphy plays three roles in Norbit, a cruel, crass, stereotype-filled comedy that's more depressing than funny."[3] Metacritic gave the movie a score of 27% based on 26 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[4]

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the movie a positive review, suggesting that Norbit might help Murphy's chances of winning an Oscar for his role in Dreamgirls, saying that his work playing three distinct characters in Norbit is more impressive than anything he did in Dreamgirls.[5] Others suggested it might hurt his chances.[6] Ultimately, Alan Arkin won the award for Best Supporting Actor.

Josh Tyler of Cinemablend.com gave the movie a mostly negative review, in which he described parts of the film as "pretty despicable" and stated that "the plot relies on the idea that being fat also means you’re a horrible bitch." However, he pointed out that "some if it’s also kind of sweet. Eddie’s really quite good as Norbit, the character is sympathetic and funny. He has a strange sort of perfect chemistry with Thandie Newton, and that’s just not something I would have expected."[7]

In another mostly negative review, Liz Braun of Jam! Movies described Norbit as "mostly blubber jokes about how fat Rasputia really is" but said that "the movie is not without genuine laughs. Most of those laughs are generated by the other actors." In regard to the "terrifying" character Rasputia, she went so far as to say that the film "tends to confirm one's worst suspicions about Murphy and what appears to be his general fear and loathing of women. The Rasputia gag gets a little freaky if you think about it too much. And you wouldn't want to dwell on how much Thandie Newton looks like a slender boy in her role as Norbit's true love, either. So don't."[8]

Some black activists took issue with Eddie Murphy's portrayal of the character Rasputia, calling Norbit "just the latest [film built] around a black man dressing up as an unsophisticated, overweight black woman."[6]

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a B grade, with under eighteens (28% of those surveyed) giving it a B+ grade.[9]

Box office[edit]

Norbit was a success at the box office. It opened to $34.2 million in the United States and was Eddie Murphy's 14th #1 box office opener.[10] The film earned $95,673,607 at the North American domestic box office, and $63,639,954 in other markets, for a total of $159,313,561 worldwide.[1]

Accolades[edit]

Norbit was nominated for eight Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, and won three awards, all for Eddie Murphy as three different characters.[11] The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Makeup.[2]

Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award[2] Best Makeup Rick Baker Nominated
Kazuhiro Tsuji Nominated
Golden Raspberry Award[11] Worst Actor Eddie Murphy (as Norbit) Won
Cuba Gooding, Jr. Nominated
Worst Supporting Actor Eddie Murphy (as Mr. Wong) Won
Worst Supporting Actress Eddie Murphy (as Rasputia) Won
Worst Screen Couple Eddie Murphy (and either Eddie Murphy or Eddie Murphy) Nominated
Worst Picture John Davis Nominated
Mike Tollin Nominated
Eddie Murphy Nominated
Worst Screenplay Nominated
Charlie Murphy Nominated
Jay Scherick Nominated
David Ronn Nominated
Worst Director Brian Robbins Nominated

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack for Norbit was released on February 6, 2007 by Lakeshore Records.[12][13]

  1. "Standing in the Safety Zone" - The Fairfield Four (2:41)
  2. "It's Goin' Down" - Yung Joc (4:03)
  3. "You Did" - Kate Earl feat. The Designated Hitters (2:26)
  4. "Sexual Healing" - Marvin Gaye
  5. "I Only Want to Be with You" - Dusty Springfield (2:37)
  6. "Milkshake" - Kelis (3:04)
  7. "Shoppin' for Clothes" - The Coasters (2:58)
  8. "Walk It Out" - Unk (2:54)
  9. "Looking for You" - Kirk Franklin (4:06)
  10. "Sweet Honey" - Slightly Stoopid (3:52)
  11. "The Hands of Time" - Perfect Circle (6:19)
  12. "Young Norbit" - David Newman (3:33)
  13. "Queen of Whores" - David Newman (:46)
  14. "Kate Returns"/"Tuesday, Tuesday" - David Newman (3:24)
  15. "Norbit Sneaks Out" - David Newman (:33)
  16. "Rasputia's Fury" - David Newman (1:44)
  17. "Norbit and Kate" - David Newman (:55)
  18. "I Only Want To Be With You" - Dusty Springfield
  19. "Temperature" - Sean Paul (3:36)
  20. "It's Goin' Down" - Yung Joc

Several songs were used in the film which do not appear on the soundtrack album, in order of appearance:

The song "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" is sung at Norbit and Rasputia's wedding party, but likewise does not appear on the soundtrack album.

Home media[edit]

Norbit was released on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and HD DVD on June 5, 2007. Since HD DVD was discontinued, Norbit has remained available on Blu-ray and DVD.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Norbit". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. 
  2. ^ a b c Academy Award Nominations
  3. ^ "Norbit (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 
  4. ^ Norbit at Metacritic
  5. ^ Mick LaSalle (February 9, 2007). "MOVIE REVIEWS / He can sing, he can dance. But mostly he likes fat suits.". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  6. ^ a b Braxton, Greg; Welkos, Robert W. (February 8, 2007). "Is this what a future Oscar winner looks like?". Los Angeles Times. 
  7. ^ Tyler, Josh. "Norbit Review". Cinemablend.com. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  8. ^ Braun, Liz. "'Norbit' a one big misogynist gag". Jam!. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  9. ^ Kilday, Gregg (February 13, 2007). "Murphy laugher 'Norbit' in orbit with $34.2 mil bow". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  10. ^ Nicole Sperling (February 12, 2007). "'Norbit' take hefty at $33.7 mil". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  11. ^ a b Norbit gains three wins at Razzies Razzies.com
  12. ^ Norbit SOUNDTRACK amazon.com
  13. ^ Norbit - Original Soundtrack allmusic.com

External links[edit]