Norbit Preview

A small note prior to this post: Last July we decided to take a look back at the movies that we watched over five years ago and choose a Hall of Fame class, five movies that we thought embodied BMT in some way. Perhaps they were particularly bad, or an example of a specific bad movie trope, whatever, something made them stand out as special in our minds. Since we didn’t do email previews back in 2011 we also decided to provide a preview for the movie as well. This is the fourth in a series of five leading up to our yearly awards the Smaddies Baddies. A recap (Hall of Fame speech really) will follow immediate afterwards to explain why the movie was chosen, things we loved about the movie, and things we discovered upon second viewing. Enjoy!

Norbit (2007) – BMeTric: 81.2

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(Sweet 2011 inflection. It is definitely a strong trend. Yet again, despite thousands and thousands of votes coming it the movie’s rating doesn’t regress to the mean. It is generally unusual, but three out of the four Hall of Fame movies exhibit this unusual trend. Old Dogs was the only exception which is also very interesting. I suppose as a fairly innocuous family comedy it managed to evade the bad movie cultists that surround the more popular fair.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – As in Coming to America and the Nutty Professor vehicles Murphy plays several characters: Norbit a meek young man brought up by Chinese restaurant owner Mr. Wong and stuck in a terrifying marriage with the hideously overweight Rasputia. All three are in search of a script. Murphy shows his comedic range but is let down by the material, which includes all of the fat jokes the writers (including Murphy his brother Charles) could come up with. Prophetic ad line for the movie asked, “Have You Ever Made a Really Bad Mistake?”

(I like the idea of Murphy getting all pissed about the writers failing to live up to his comic genius and then realizing that he wrote the movie. I’m also genuinely shocked Mr. Wong’s mind-blowing racism isn’t mentioned alongside the (seemingly) unlimited store of fat jokes the Murphy brothers could muster. I’m skeptical Leonard watched this film … this review is low on detes. I’m onto you Leonard.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmSZJ17ppEQ

(So she punches him in the face and she throws him through a window in the trailer. This trailer is aggressive, it is in your face. They use that song Don’t Cha by the Pussy Cat Dolls like five times. I don’t like the trailer, it hints that it might be the worst thing you’ve ever seen … but it does manage to hide the fact that the movie is more horror film than comedy. So congrats.)

Directors – Brian Robbins – (Known For: Varsity Blues; BMT: Norbit (BMT); The Shaggy Dog; Meet Dave; Ready to Rumble; Good Burger; The Perfect Score; A Thousand Words (BMT); Hard Ball; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Director for Norbit; Good Burger?! Say What? He was a main character on the show Head of the Class appearing in all 114 episodes. He got his start directing with Kenan & Kel and Good Burger, and many Murphy projects. He is also an extremely accomplished producer in both television and streaming services.)

Writers – Eddie Murphy (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Coming to America; Beverly Hills Cop II; Boomerang; BMT: Norbit (BMT); Vampire in Brooklyn; Another 48 Hrs.; Harlem Nights (BMT); Notes: See below for Razzie Notes; He doesn’t write as many of his starring roles than I personally would have expected. He didn’t seem very enthused about directing with Harlem Nights, so maybe he’d rather riff on screen and doesn’t really care to write? He hadn’t done it in years before Norbit (1995 was his last feature prior to Norbit in 2007).)

Charlie Murphy (screenplay & story) (as Charles Murphy) – (BMT: Norbit (BMT); Vampire in Brooklyn; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Screenplay for Norbit; Funny he was going by Charles Murphy … perhaps this suggests the screenplay was written long before the movie came out? Chappelle’s Show was in 2003-2006, and at that point he would have been far more well known as Charlie Murphy. Perhaps he got credited from an original draft written years before. It also perhaps resolves the curiosity that Eddie Murphy seemingly didn’t write a movie for all those years … huh, this movie was probably written in like 2000 wasn’t it?)

Jay Scherick and David Ronn (screenplay) – (Known For: Guess Who; BMT: Norbit; Zookeeper; I Spy; The Smurfs; The Smurfs 2; Serving Sara; National Security; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Screenplay for Norbit; The writers for the upcoming Baywatch adaptation (the trailer looks pretty funny). These guys’ filmography make me a bit skeptical, but maybe they are punch-up artists? … I was just thinking that maybe they are like Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon … who it turns out also wrote Baywatch. Two other dudes got final credit. Yeah, Baywatch clearly fired those two writing teams during production. Wow.)

Actors – Eddie Murphy – (Known For: Shrek; Shrek 2; Shrek the Third; Mulan; Coming to America; Beverly Hills Cop; Trading Places; Dreamgirls; Tower Heist; Shrek Forever After; Beverly Hills Cop II; 48 Hrs.; Doctor Dolittle; The Nutty Professor; Life; Dr. Dolittle 2; Bowfinger; Boomerang; Imagine That; BMT: Norbit (BMT); Nutty Professor II: The Klumps; Pluto Nash (BMT); Vampire in Brooklyn; The Haunted Mansion; Meet Dave; Holy Man; I Spy; Beverly Hills Cop III; Showtime; Daddy Day Care; Metro; Another 48 Hrs.; The Golden Child (BMT); A Thousand Words (BMT); The Distinguished Gentleman; Harlem Nights (BMT); Notes: See below for Razzie notes; There isn’t much more to say about Murphy. He is both a legend in his own right, and a BMT legend. Since maybe 2000 his legacy has been marred by poorly reviewed films, bitterness, and poor public relations. The thing recently I remember was his awkward appearance at the SNL 40 celebrations.)

Thandie Newton – (Known For: Crash; RocknRolla; The Pursuit of Happyness; Mission: Impossible II; Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles; W.; Run Fatboy Run; Beloved; Vanishing on 7th Street; BMT: Norbit (BMT); The Truth About Charlie; 2012 (BMT); Good Deeds; For Colored Girls; Jefferson in Paris; How to Lose Friends & Alienate People; The Young Americans; The Chronicles of Riddick; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2001 for Worst Supporting Actress for Mission: Impossible II; Actually has an incredible filmography, including the recent HBO smash hit Westworld. Grew up in England and her accent limited her early work. She is vegan, and was even named the Sexiest Vegan of 2014!)

Terry Crews – (seen in Scary Movie 5, The Ridiculous 6, White Chicks, The Benchwarmers, Gamer, The Single Moms Club, The Expendables 3, Blended … that’s more than Neil McDonough!)

Eddie Murphy Razzie Cred – Won the Razzie Award in 2010 for Worst Actor of the Decade; Won the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Actor, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress for Norbit; Won the Razzie Award in 1990 for Worst Screenplay for Harlem Nights; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Director and Screenplay for Norbit; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2013 for Worst Actor for A Thousand Words; in 2010 for Imagine That; in 2009 for Meet Dave; and in 2003 for The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, and Showtime; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2009 for Worst Screen Couple for Meet Dave; in 2008 for Norbit; in 2003 for Showtime, I Spy, The Adventures of Pluto Nash;

Budget/Gross – $60 million / Domestic: $95,673,607 (Worldwide: $159,313,561)

(That’s actually not that bad. Looking through his boxofficemojo he had had bombs before, and I remember comments surrounding The Haunted Mansion, Daddy Day Care, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash concerning his turn in quality. But I also remember that it wasn’t really until Meet Dave that faith was completely lost. That completely bombed and it was then three years before Tower Heist was supposed to get him back into the comedy game. We’ll see about the new Beverly Hills Cop I suppose.)

#11 for the Comedy – Fat Suit genre

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(Better than Big Momma’s House 2 and Big Momma Like Father Like Son. Only a shade below the original Big Momma’s House as well. Obviously a major player in the genre, Eddie Murphy was a trailblazer with the Nutty Professor franchise. Is it crazy to say that this movie marked the end of the Fat Suit Era of Hollywood? I can think of two reasons why. First, the genre is garbage. Second, they can kind of pull it off with cheaper CGI it seems (see Central Intelligence).)

#29 for the Romantic Comedy genre

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(Man … the romcom genre kind of sucks. No joke, there are like 300 films in this list and the 31st is Sex in the City 2. Gross. Once again this graphic is interesting. Such a major genre you can kind of see Hollywood grow through the 90s and reach saturation in about 2000 and then it just holds steady. Nothing really causes the fall. The movies just seem to consistently not make money. Thinking of a 2000 theater release $24K per theater is $50 million dollars. Since the 80’s only 80 or so movies have broken that mark, and only 28 broke $100 million. Plus I’m sure, given the cultural restrictions on romance in particular, these movies perform quite poorly if at all overseas. My guess is that, yet again, this is a genre destined for VOD release going forward.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 9% (11/123): 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.

(Less than 10% on rotten tomatoes is incredible. Cruel (yep), crass (yep), stereo-type filled (yep) those are the things I remember about this film on my first viewing. It made me feel gross and it seems like 91% of critics also felt gross while watching it.)

Poster – Bore-it … get it? (C+)

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(I know Jamie would be hating on this poster because it is basically just white. I actually think it does an adequate job at highlighting literally the only thing you want from this movie: Eddie Murphy as a big ol’ fat girl. I gave it b-b-b-b-bonus points because of how they squeezed the title. Very hard to spoof if I wanted to.)

Tagline(s) – Have You Ever Made A Really Big Mistake? (C-)

(I was going to give this an F, but then I envisioned Rasputia on th eposter and thought, ah, big mistake. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it, and it makes sense for them movie. So I merely declared this below average.)

Keyword(s) – orphan; Top Ten by BMeTric: 90.6 Epic Movie (2007); 86.3 Dragonball Evolution (2009); 83.6 Fantastic Four (2015); 81.5 Alone in the Dark (2005); 81.2 Norbit (2007); 78.0 The Room (2003); 77.5 Super Mario Bros. (1993); 74.1 Prom Night (I) (2008); 73.8 Superhero Movie (2008); 64.3 The Next Karate Kid (1994);

(Huh, interesting list. I’m shocked the Next Karate Kid is so loathed actually. I never did get around to that. Besides that Alone in the Dark is the only other must see, although a 70+ horror film in Prom Night does hold some allure.)

Notes – One scene shows Rasputia watching a talk show with a paternity test theme. Eddie Murphy endured a paternity scandal before the film’s theatrical run, involving Spice Girl Melanie Brown. A DNA test confirmed the actor was the baby’s father.

The set used in the film is the same one that “Gilmore Girls” (2010) used as Stars Hollow in their 7 season run. (awesome. I’ll have to look out for that on my watch of Gilmore Girls)

The car wash scene is a parody of a TV ad featuring Paris Hilton. (oh alright, that’s didn’t hold up)

For security purposes, early prints were shipped under the title ‘Jupiter’, an apparent allusion to Eddie Murphy’s film Pluto Nash (2002). (fun facts)

This is the second film that Cuba Gooding Jr. played in, that starred Eddie Murphy playing multiple characters. The first film was Coming To America (1988), he had a small non- speaking role, as boy in barber shop chair.

WatchMOJO lists Norbit number 10 on its top worst comedy movies list. (Number 10?! Let me see this fucking list: Norbit, Chairman of the Board (BMT), Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (Seen it), Little Nicky (Seen it), Freddy Got Fingered (BMT), It’s Pat. Son of Mask, Master of Disguise (BMT), Bio-Dome (Seen it), Jack and Jill (BMT). Alright … that’s a pretty legit list.)

Awards – Nominated for the Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup (Rick Baker, Kazuhiro Tsuji)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Eddie Murphy)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Eddie Murphy)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Cuba Gooding Jr.)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Eddie Murphy)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Brian Robbins)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Eddie Murphy, Charlie Murphy, Jay Scherick, David Ronn)

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