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
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Eddie Murphy
  • Charles Murphy
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyClark Mathis
Edited byNed Bastille
Music byDavid Newman
Production
companies
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • February 9, 2007 (2007-02-09)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$60 million[1][2]
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. Eddie Murphy portrays multiple roles including the eponymous Norbit and his abusive obese wife Rasputia; regretting ever having married her, Norbit decides he has had enough of her behavior at about the same time that his childhood sweetheart Kate returns to his life with plans for the orphanage where Norbit and Kate grew up. Norbit risks everything to be with her, but must also contend with his intimidating brothers-in-law who have an agenda of their own.

The film was a box office success, it grossed $159 million worldwide, against a production budget of $60 million. It was negatively received by critics. The film was nominated for eight Golden Raspberry Awards, and also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Makeup.

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 play married each other with Ring Pops and lived happily ever after for two weeks until Kate's adoption.

Five years later, Norbit is rescued from playground bullies by a tough, overweight girl Rasputia Latimore, who becomes his protector from the other bullies and best friend, but eventually grows into an arrogant and tyrannical woman. They marry each other as adults, but Rasputia begins insulting and controlling him, especially accusing him for adjusting her car seat when she is driving her car. Norbit is also belittled by Rasputia's three older brothers Big Black Jack, Blue, and Earl, working as a bookkeeper at their construction company. The Latimore brothers run a "security business", instilling fear in the entire community except Mr. Wong, who refuses to sell them his business.

Norbit catches Rasputia cheating on him with her tap dance instructor Buster Perkin, and calls her the 'Queen of Whores' which results her into chasing him through the neighborhood. After the chase, Norbit throws away his wedding ring and vents his anger about Rasputia's infidelity 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 is disappointed to learn she is engaged to a man named 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 and along the way, Kate teaches Norbit how to ride a bike. Deion attempts to leave town without Kate, having no intention to help her run the orphanage, but the Latimore brothers persuade him to help them to turn the orphanage into a strip club instead. 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 threatens violence towards Kate if he ever sees her again.

When Kate later learns about the deal from Deion, she goes to confront Norbit and sees him being held prisoner by Rasputia (who masterminded the orphanage plot) in their basement. Norbit reluctantly, deliberately drives her away to protect her from Rasputia. Satisfied, Rasputia lies that Norbit has tricked Kate since she came back to town. Heartbroken, Kate runs away, and Norbit decides to permanently leave town. Then he finds a letter from the private investigator he hired, discovering Deion is rich from various divorce settlements.

The Latimores reveal their plan to Norbit, and lock him in the basement again. Norbit escapes by bike, 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 reveals Deion's ex-wives and children, and Deion flees as they give chase, which results in the Latimores' plan being blown up in their faces.

The Latimores attack Norbit for permanently ruining their plans, but the townspeople take up arms to protect him. Rasputia fights her way through the crowd and prepares to kill him, but Mr. Wong harpoons her in the rear. The Latimores finally accept defeat and are chased out of town while Norbit and Kate reconcile. They buy the orphanage and marry under the same tree where they played as children years ago and finally live happily ever after. Rasputia and the Latimores were never seen or heard from again, but several rumors said that they 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)
    • Mr. Wong, the gruff yet kind-hearted, Chinese 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
  • Floyd Levine as Abe, the tailor
  • 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 Floyd the Dog, Mrs. Henderson's pet Pug dog (credited as Floyd the Dog)

Production[edit]

After the success of Shrek, DreamWorks co-founder and CEO 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.[3] DreamWorks production president Adam Goodman brought the script to Brian Robbins and he was excited about the prospect of working with Eddie Murphy.[4] 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.[4]

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."[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

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 3.6/10, 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."[8] Metacritic gave the movie a score of 27 out of 100, based on reviews from 26 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[9] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a B grade, with under eighteens (28% of those surveyed) giving it a B+ grade.[10]

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.[11] Others suggested it might hurt his chances.[12][13][14] 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."[15][16] 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."[17] 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."[18]

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."[19]

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."[12] Film critic MaryAnn Johanson said it was a minstrel show and called it a "hideous stew of bigoted "humor"".[20]

The New Yorker film critic Richard Brody praised Murphy's performances saying "playing multiple roles, Murphy unleashes, with a sense of painful revelation, a tangle of rage, cringing fear, furious power, and a sense of perpetual and unresolved outsiderness." He rated it 17th of 30 top acting performances of the 21st century.[21]

Musician Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys called Norbit his favourite movie in a 2007 interview with the Asbury Park Press.[22]

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."[23]

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.[14]

Box office[edit]

Industry projections expected Norbit to earn about $20 million in its opening weekend,[24][2] 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.[25][26] 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.[27][28][29]

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.[30] The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Makeup.[31]

Award Category Subject Result
Academy Awards[32] Best Makeup Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists[33] Hall of Shame Won
BET Awards[34] Best Actor Eddie Murphy (also for Dreamgirls) Nominated
Golden Raspberry Awards (2007)[30] Worst Picture John Davis, Mike Tollin and Eddie Murphy Nominated
Worst Director Brian Robbins 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 Screenplay Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Charlie Murphy and Eddie Murphy Nominated
Worst Screen Couple Eddie Murphy (and either Eddie Murphy or Eddie Murphy) Nominated
Golden Raspberry Awards (2009) Worst Actor of the Decade Eddie Murphy (also for The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, Imagine That, Meet Dave and Showtime) Won
Golden Schmoes Awards[citation needed] Worst Movie of the Year Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards[35] Favorite Male Movie Star Eddie Murphy Nominated
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards[citation needed] Obviously Worst Film Won
Women Film Critics Circle Awards[36] Most Offensive Male Character Eddie Murphy (as Rasputia) Won
Hall of Shame Won

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack for Norbit was released on February 6, 2007 by Lakeshore Records.[37][38]

  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. ^ a b Dean Goodman (February 11, 2007). "Eddie Murphy box office heavyweight with 'Norbit'". Reuters.
  3. ^ Thompson, Anne (April 23, 2007). "DreamWorks scores a triple play". Variety.
  4. ^ a b Martin A. Grove, AP (July 8, 2008). "'Dave' duo shooting third film". The Hollywood Reporter.
  5. ^ Sharon Eberson (February 9, 2007). "Makeup artist gets in the thick of things for 'Norbit'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  6. ^ Ryder, Caroline (February 12, 2008). "'Norbit'". Variety.
  7. ^ Bill Desowitz (February 20, 2007). "Digital Dimension Weighs In On Norbit". Animation World Network.
  8. ^ "Norbit (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media.
  9. ^ Norbit at Metacritic Edit this at Wikidata
  10. ^ Kilday, Gregg (February 13, 2007). "Murphy laugher 'Norbit' in orbit with $34.2 mil bow". The Hollywood Reporter.
  11. ^ Mick LaSalle (February 9, 2007). "MOVIE REVIEWS / He can sing, he can dance. But mostly he likes fat suits". San Francisco Chronicle.
  12. ^ a b Braxton, Greg; Welkos, Robert W. (February 8, 2007). "Is this what a future Oscar winner looks like?". Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ Legel, Laremy (February 9, 2007). "Norbit an Oscar Disaster for Eddie?". MTV News.
  14. ^ a b Emerson, Jim (March 8, 2007). "What if they didn't spend millions to advertise "Norbit"? | Scanners". RogerEbert.com.
  15. ^ Luke Sader (February 8, 2007). "Norbit". The Hollywood Reporter. Associated Press.
  16. ^ Koehler, Robert (February 9, 2007). "Norbit". Variety.
  17. ^ Tobias, Scott (2007). "Norbit". The A.V. Club. The Onion.
  18. ^ Tyler, Josh. "Norbit Review". Cinemablend.com. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  19. ^ Braun, Liz. "'Norbit' a one big misogynist gag". Jam!. Retrieved August 6, 2019.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ Johanson, MaryAnn (February 12, 2007). "Weekend Wrap-up: Audiences Love Norbit, Millennial Minstrel Show". MTV News.
  21. ^ Richard Brody (March 6, 2021). "The Best Movie Performances of the Century So Far". The New Yorker.
  22. ^ Winston Cook-Wilson (May 10, 2017). "It's Been Ten Years Since Brian Wilson Said His Favorite Movie Was Norbit". Spin.
  23. ^ Nicole Sperling AP (March 8, 2007). "Robbins feathers nest by defying film critics". The Hollywood Reporter.
  24. ^ Nicole Sperling (February 9, 2007). "Boxoffice: It's 'Hannibal' vs. 'Norbit'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  25. ^ Nicole Sperling (February 12, 2007). "'Norbit' take hefty at $33.7 mil". The Hollywood Reporter.
  26. ^ The Associated Press (February 12, 2007). "'Norbit' laughs all the way to box office bank". TODAY.com. the year’s biggest opening so far
  27. ^ "Weekend box office 9th March 2007 – 11th March 2007". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  28. ^ "Weekend box office 16th March 2007 – 18th March 2007". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  29. ^ "Weekend box office 23rd March 2007 – 25th March 2007". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  30. ^ a b "Norbit gains three wins at Razzies". Razzies.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2012.
  31. ^ Academy Award Nominations
  32. ^ "The 80th (2008) Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  33. ^ "2007 EDA Awards". AWJF.org. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  34. ^ ahale (June 26, 2007). "2007 BET Awards List Of Winners". Hip Hop DX. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  35. ^ "Johnny Depp, Jessica Alba, Eddie Murphy, Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Drake Bell, Chris Brown, Tony Hawk, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Cameron Diaz (Wannabe Award) – and Many More – Score at Nickelodeon's 2008 Kids' Choice Awards". March 29, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  36. ^ "Women Film Critics Circle Awards 2007". Women Film Critics Circle. December 13, 2007. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  37. ^ Norbit SOUNDTRACK amazon.com
  38. ^ Norbit – Original Soundtrack allmusic.com

External links[edit]