What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids who liked Murphy's Nutty Professor movies may very well want to see this one, too, despite the fact that it's rife with raunchy humor and stereotypes. Most of this centers on the large body of Murphy's female character, Rasputia, and includes wide-angle shots of her flesh (looking menacing and grotesque) and jokes about her appetites for sex and food. Rasputia is also cruel, which means that many jokes feature her physically abusing Norbit. Sexual allusions are swift, crude, and frequent. Violence is cartoonish and loud (bodies fall, fly through the air, and hit each other). Language is relatively mild but incessant -- primarily "damn," "hell," "ass," and "bitch."
What's the story?
Nerdy, well-meaning Norbit (played by Eddie Murphy as an adult) grows up at an orphanage run by Mr. Wong. At age 5, Norbit's best buddy is Kate, but when she's adopted, they lose track of each another. He's soon approached by a large girl named Rasputia, who beats up the kids who pick on him and expects utter subservience and loyalty in return. Norbit agrees to her terms, going so far as to marry her when he comes of age. Their marriage is rendered in a few horrific montages and short scenes, focused mainly on how Rasputia overwhelms Norbit in bed. Her dominance is bolstered by her big brothers -- Big Jack (Terry Crews), Earl (Clifton Powell), and Blue (Mighty Rasta) -- all of whom are aggressive and menacing, not to mention greedy. When Norbit discovers that Rasputia is cheating on him with her aerobics instructor (Marlon Wayans), he finds solace with Kate (Thandie Newton), who's returned to town to take over the orphanage.
Is it any good?
The plot of director Brian Robbins's comedy matters little, except that it serves as an excuse for racist, misogynist, and other stereotypes. Of course, there's Rasputia. Mr. Wong (also played by Murphy) is another egregious stereotype, "Chinese" pronunciation jokes abound. Eddie Griffin and Katt Williams portray pimps, still more stereotypes to laugh at.
Norbit finally realizes he's in love with Kate and gets up enough nerve to leave his wife, despite her physical abuse. This passes for resolution and is underlined when Rasputia suffers some awful mistreatment, primarily at the hands of Mr. Wong, who inexplicably practices whale-harpooning and so gets to yell out, "Whale, ho!" as he assaults her. Bottom line? This is a pointless exercise in gross-out humor that will probably offend just about everyone.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the appeal of gross-out humor. Where do you draw the line between silly and offensive? Is it funny to see actors dress in drag and/or bury themselves in fat suits? Why? Rasputia is a strong, powerful woman -- but she's also cruel, self-indulgent, and constantly the butt of jokes for her voracious appetites. As a consequence, what messages does the movie send about body image and gender roles? Why do you think Eddie Murphy is drawn to make movies like this?