By Jerry Roys
Eddie Murphy’s film "Norbit," is a one man/woman show, make that a two man/woman show. Oh hell, as big as the woman is, make that a two man/ three woman show.
Norbit is a story about an orphaned child, left as an infant in the parking lot of an orphanage /Chinese restaurant owned by Mr. Wong, (played by Murphy). This is Norbit’s father figure who he plays well and uses humorous word play with the Chinese accent. However, I felt the Wong character could have been more developed into the storyline.
That being said, Norbit’s childhood love interest Kate, later played by Thandie Newton, is adopted and moves away. (We know she’s coming back or they’ll be little plot). Norbit is then befriended by the overweight and over bearing, Rasputia (also played by Murphy), who traps him into a relationship. Norbit is also under the threat of getting pummeled by Rasputia’s three brute thug brothers if he so much as hurts her feelings. So Norbit goes about his life with Rasputia and working for the brother’s construction company. There are some funny scenes in the sequence of Norbit’s childhood and teen years. The wedding scene is made funny by Murphy’s Mr. Wong character. The scene of Rasputia leaping on Norbit in her sexy lingerie is funny and gross the first time, after that it’s just gross.
And gross is the problem with the movie. Fat jokes, like any joke, can only be taken so far. The first time Rasputia gets in her small sports car is funny after that it’s predictable. Though Murphy has a great talent in playing multiple characters and making them believable as in "The Nutty Professor," the storyline in "Norbit" makes you feel like you have seen this movie before – several times in fact, and you know where it’s going.
Kate moves back to town to buy the orphanage, again predictable. Norbit finds he is still in love with Kate though she has a fiancé. Kate’s fiancé, Deion, (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is predictable as being a womanizer only after Kate’s money. Deion and Rasputia’s brothers plan on using Norbit to trick Kate into signing papers to turn the orphanage into a topless bar, predictable. Norbit is out to expose Deion for what he is, and win Kate’s heart. Need I say it again, predictable!
What’s good in this movie are the talents of special effects and makeup artist Rick Baker. The make up for the Mr. Wong character is amazing and Murphy plays him so well. The special body suit and make up for Rasputia was beyond believable, maybe a little to believable in the case of seeing the character in a bathing suit, a two piece one at that. The water park scene is funny but short. As were the scenes of the retired pimps Pope Sweet Jesus (Eddie Griffin) and Lord Have Mercy (Katt Williams) who now own a rib joint/ hardware business: Bed Bitches and Beyond. "We once sold Ho’s to Johns, now we’re selling Johns to Hos," they say. These characters are funny in every scene their in, there’s just not enough scenes with them to carry the waning movie.
Murphy really is a one man show since most of the scenes are of Norbit and Rasputia. His facial expressions are great, as both Norbit and Rasputia, and he can still make you laugh out loud with them. There were some funny scenes, but the storyline, unlike Rasputia’s chest, left the movie flat. A huge plus for me was Murphy didn’t banter the "N" word about. In fact he didn’t use it at all.
By Sara Whitney
The slapstick "Cops" spoof show "Reno 911!" is in its fourth season on Comedy Central, and the Reno Sherriff’s Department has decided to hit the road. The department has (finally) received an invitation to attend a national police convention in Miami, where they plan to check out the guns, mingle with more prestigious officers and soak up the sun. Unfortunately, the department’s convention reservations are nowhere to be found, and they’re left to find accommodations in a seedier part of town.
When they return to the convention center, however, a massive bioterrorist attack has left more than 2,000 officers quarantined inside the building, including the entire Miami Police Department. So Lieutenant Dangle and his seven-member, rag-tag crew don Miami police uniforms and, with a bit of quick sewing, are dressed and ready to serve and protect the city. Oh, by the way, they also have to try to find the vaccine for the quarantined officers.
This makes a tall order for the eight out-of-town officers in "Reno 911! Miami," a movie that, like its TV parent show, is filled with clichéd lines and almost entirely visual situational comedy. Despite its original appearance, the movie turns out to be a relatively fun, if predictable, ride through botched policing and accidental heroism, though the heavily improvisation-laced film seems to sometimes suffocate in its dependence on improv instead of scripted lines. Still, it’s worth a laugh or two, but one viewing will likely be enough.