Norbit

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Norbit
A morbidly obese woman wearing pink lingerie crawls on top of a terrified small man wearing big glasses. The tagline reads "Have you ever made a really big mistake"
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrian Robbins
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Eddie Murphy
  • Charles Murphy
Starring
Music byDavid Newman
CinematographyClark Mathis
Edited byNed Bastille
Production
companies
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • February 9, 2007 (2007-02-09)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$60 million[1]
Box office$159.3 million[1]

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

The film was negatively received by critics and earned Murphy three Golden Raspberry Awards, out of the film's eight total nominations. The film received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Makeup. The movie grossed $159 million worldwide, against a production budget of $60 million.

Plot[edit]

Childhood friends Norbit Albert Rice and Kate Thomas, living at an orphanage doubling as a Chinese restaurant called The Golden Wonton owned by Mr. Wong, are separated when Kate is adopted. They also pretended to marry each other with ring pops. Five years later, Norbit is rescued from playground bullies by a tough, overweight girl named Rasputia Latimore, who becomes his protector from the other bullies and best friend. Rasputia grows into an arrogant and tyrannical woman. After a while, she and Norbit get married and Rasputia begins insulting and controlling him. Norbit is also belittled by Rasputia's older brothers Big Black Jack, Blue, and Earl, working as a bookkeeper at their construction company. The Latimore brothers also run a "security business" and instill fear in the entire community except Mr. Wong, who refuses to sell them his business.

Norbit discovers Rasputia is cheating on him with her dance instructor Buster Perkin, throwing away his wedding ring and venting his anger at a puppet show for the orphans. He is stunned to see Kate for the first time since childhood, and his affection for her reignites as he learns she is buying Mr. Wong's orphanage, but he is disappointed to learn she is engaged to Deion Hughes.

With help from ex-pimp friends Pope Sweet Jesus and Lord Have Mercy and other townspeople, Norbit meets Kate without Rasputia's knowledge. Deion is revealed to be helping the Latimore brothers in their plan to turn the orphanage into a strip club. The brothers dupe Norbit into getting Kate to sign papers to renew the restaurant's liquor license in the Latimores' name. Norbit's meeting with Kate leads to helping rehearse her wedding, where a kiss between them makes her reconsider marrying Deion. Norbit returns home to learn Rasputia witnessed their kiss and she threatens to destroy Kate if Norbit ever sees her again.

Kate goes to confront Norbit about the deal and sees him being held prisoner by Rasputia (who is the mastermind of the orphanage plot) in their house's basement. Norbit reluctantly insults Kate, deliberately driving her away to protect her from Rasputia's wrath. Satisfied, Rasputia lies that Norbit has tricked Kate since she came back to town. Heartbroken, Kate runs away, and Norbit decides to leave town for good, but then he finds a letter from a private investigator he hired revealing that Deion is rich from various divorce settlements.

The Latimores reveal their plan to Norbit, and lock him in the basement again. Norbit escapes, reaching the wedding just in time to inform Kate of Deion's schemes. Though his proof of Deion's divorce settlements was destroyed after falling into a pond, Norbit presents Deion's ex-wives (who he told his name was either Antoine or Luther) and his children. Deion flees, and the Latimores attack Norbit for ruining their plans, but the townspeople take up arms to protect Norbit. Rasputia fights her way through the crowd and prepares to kill Norbit, but Mr. Wong harpoons her in the rear. Rasputia and her brothers are chased out of town, and Norbit and Kate reconcile. They buy the orphanage and marry under the same tree where they played as children. The Latimores move to Mexico and open up their strip club "El Nipplopolis", where Rasputia becomes their most popular and lucrative stripper.

Cast[edit]

  • Eddie Murphy as:
    • Norbit Albert Rice, a shy, nerdy, but likable man.
      • Khamani Griffin as Young Norbit (age 5)
      • Austin Reid as Young Norbit (age 10)
      • Jonathan Robinson as Young Norbit (age 17)
    • Rasputia Latimore, Norbit's morbidly obese, sadistic, abusive and tyrannical wife
      • Lindsey Sims-Lewis as Young Rasputia (age 10)
      • Yves Lola St. Vil as Young Rasputia (age 17)
    • Hangten Wong, the gruff yet kind-hearted, Chinese-American owner of the orphanage where Norbit and Kate met as children.
  • Thandie Newton as Kate Thomas, Norbit's childhood best friend, in whom he has had a lifelong romantic interest.
    • China Anderson as Young Kate (age 5)
  • Terry Crews as Big Black Jack Latimore, Rasputia's eldest brother and henchman.
  • Lester "Rasta" Speight as Blue Latimore, Rasputia's second eldest brother and henchman.
  • Clifton Powell as Earl Latimore, Rasputia's third eldest brother and henchman.
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. as Deion Hughes, Kate's fiancé.
  • Eddie Griffin as Pope Sweet Jesus, an ex-pimp and Norbit's friend.
  • Katt Williams as Lord Have Mercy, Pope's sidekick and friend.
  • 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.
  • Richard Gant as The Preacher
  • Alexis Rhee as Mrs. Ling Ling Wong, Mr. Wong's wife
  • Marianne Muellerleile as Helga, the epilator
  • Kristen Schaal as Event Organizer
  • John Gatins as Water Park Attendant
  • Smith Cho as Deion's Asian wife
  • Charlie Murphy (voice) as Lloyd the Dog, Mrs. Henderson's pet Pug dog (credited as Floyd the Dog)

Production[edit]

After the success of Shrek, DreamWorks Jeffrey Katzenberg signed up Eddie Murphy to star in a live-action followup, and they were looking for the right film. Norbit seemed like a good fit, following on from playing multiple characters in a family comedy as Murphy had done before with Dr. Dolittle and The Nutty Professor.[2] DreamWorks production president Adam Goodman brought the script to Brian Robbins and he was excited about the prospect of working with Eddie Murphy.[3] 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.[3]

The various prosthetic makeups, bodysuits, and wigs were created by Rick Baker and his company Cinovation. Baker praised Murphy saying "He really makes the stuff come to life, and he never complains. When we did 'The Nutty Professor' [...], he spent 80-odd days in the makeup chair. As much as I love makeup, even I would have been complaining by the end, but Eddie didn't."[4]

Rick Baker wanted to work from a real life model and auditioned over a hundred extra large ladies, all with the necessary proportions. The model also needed to be able to dance. After several rounds of auditions, one lady was chosen as the life model for Rasputia and a foam latex suit was created based on her measurements. The surfaces was painted with silicone to make it look like skin. Silicone was also used to make matching gloves. The shape of Murphy's face was changed using foam latex and pieces of silicone, which were then painted over in various tones of red, brown and yellow to create realistic looking skin tone.[5] A body double was used for some scenes, particularly the water park. Murphy with his face in makeup as Rasputia performed against green screen and his was head was digitally composited onto the body double.[6]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 9% based on 124 reviews, with an average rating of 3.58/10, with the site's consensus reading, "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."[7] Metacritic gave the movie a score of 27 out of 100, based on reviews from 26 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a B grade, with under eighteens (28% of those surveyed) giving it a B+ grade.[9]

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.[10] Others suggested it might hurt his chances.[11][12][13] Ultimately, Alan Arkin won the award for Best Supporting Actor.

Luke Sader of The Hollywood Reporter called it "Racially insensitive, politically incorrect and beyond crude."[14][15] Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club gave the film a grade of "F" and wrote: "It probably isn't possible for a single movie to reverse all social progress made since the civil-rights era, but Norbit, the latest broadside from Eddie Murphy, does its best to turn back the clock" and "hideously offensive black stereotypes are merely the tip of the iceberg."[16] 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 of 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."[17]

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."[18][permanent dead link]

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."[11] Film critic MaryAnn Johanson said it was a minstrel show and called it a "hideous stew of bigoted "humor"".[19]

Musician Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys called Norbit his favourite movie in a 2007 interview with the Asbury Park Press.[20]

Director's response[edit]

Director Brian Robbins praised Murphy's performance saying "Eddie Murphy plays three amazingly different characters brilliantly. How could you not praise that? No offense to Alan Arkin, but he couldn't do what Eddie did in 'Norbit.'" Robbins reacted to the negative reviews from critics, "Is the audience that stupid? Is America's taste that bad? I don't think so." He also claimed "The only films that get good reviews are the ones that nobody sees. I just don't think you can make movies for critics". Robbins defended his star-driven, high-concept movies approach to filmmaking saying: "Don't pay attention to tracking, and don't read the reviews ... Funny trumps. Work with movie stars."[21]

Jim Emerson of RogerEbert.com agreed that filmmakers like Robbins should ignore critics and made note of the ancient analogy about McDonald's and food critics. He suggested that Robbins films "were neither designed for, nor marketed to, people who pay all that much attention to movie critics". Emerson pointed out several of the top grossing films of 2006 that got both good reviews from critics and gained wide audiences.[13]

Box office[edit]

Industry projections expected Norbit to earn about $20 million in its opening weekend,[22] and Paramount were projecting earnings of $25 million. The film opened to $34.2 million in the United States, and was Eddie Murphy's 14th #1 box office opener.[23] 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] The film was released in the United Kingdom on March 9, 2007, and topped the country's box office for the next two weekends, before being overtaken by 300.[24][25][26]

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.[27] The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Makeup.[28]

Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award[28] Best Makeup Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji Nominated
Golden Raspberry Award[27] Worst Picture John Davis, Mike Tollin and Eddie Murphy Nominated
Worst Director Brian Robbins Nominated
Worst Screenplay Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Charlie Murphy, Eddie Murphy Nominated
Worst Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. Nominated
Eddie Murphy (as Norbit) Won
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

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack for Norbit was released on February 6, 2007 by Lakeshore Records.[29][30]

  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)

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. ^ Thompson, Anne (23 April 2007). "DreamWorks scores a triple play". Variety.
  3. ^ a b Martin A. Grove, AP (8 July 2008). "'Dave' duo shooting third film". The Hollywood Reporter.
  4. ^ Sharon Eberson (February 9, 2007). "Makeup artist gets in the thick of things for 'Norbit'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  5. ^ Ryder, Caroline (12 February 2008). "'Norbit'". Variety.
  6. ^ Bill Desowitz (February 20, 2007). "Digital Dimension Weighs In On Norbit". Animation World Network.
  7. ^ "Norbit (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media.
  8. ^ Norbit at Metacritic
  9. ^ Kilday, Gregg (February 13, 2007). "Murphy laugher 'Norbit' in orbit with $34.2 mil bow". The Hollywood Reporter.
  10. ^ Mick LaSalle (February 9, 2007). "MOVIE REVIEWS / He can sing, he can dance. But mostly he likes fat suits". San Francisco Chronicle.
  11. ^ a b Braxton, Greg; Welkos, Robert W. (February 8, 2007). "Is this what a future Oscar winner looks like?". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Legel, Laremy (2007-02-09). "Norbit an Oscar Disaster for Eddie?". MTV News.
  13. ^ a b Emerson, Jim (March 8, 2007). "What if they didn't spend millions to advertise "Norbit"? | Scanners". RogerEbert.com.
  14. ^ Luke Sader (8 February 2007). "Norbit". The Hollywood Reporter. Associated Press.
  15. ^ Koehler, Robert (9 February 2007). "Norbit". Variety.
  16. ^ Tobias, Scott (2007). "Norbit". The A.V. Club. The Onion.
  17. ^ Tyler, Josh. "Norbit Review". Cinemablend.com. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  18. ^ Braun, Liz. "'Norbit' a one big misogynist gag". Jam!. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  19. ^ Johanson, MaryAnn (2007-02-12). "Weekend Wrap-up: Audiences Love Norbit, Millennial Minstrel Show". MTV News.
  20. ^ Winston Cook-Wilson (10 May 2017). "It's Been Ten Years Since Brian Wilson Said His Favorite Movie Was Norbit". Spin.
  21. ^ Nicole Sperling AP (8 March 2007). "Robbins feathers nest by defying film critics". The Hollywood Reporter.
  22. ^ Nicole Sperling (2007-02-09). "Boxoffice: It's 'Hannibal' vs. 'Norbit'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  23. ^ Nicole Sperling (February 12, 2007). "'Norbit' take hefty at $33.7 mil". The Hollywood Reporter.
  24. ^ "Weekend box office 9th March 2007 – 11th March 2007". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  25. ^ "Weekend box office 16th March 2007 – 18th March 2007". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  26. ^ "Weekend box office 23rd March 2007 – 25th March 2007". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  27. ^ a b "Norbit gains three wins at Razzies". Razzies.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-10.
  28. ^ a b Academy Award Nominations
  29. ^ Norbit SOUNDTRACK amazon.com
  30. ^ Norbit – Original Soundtrack allmusic.com

External links[edit]