Plot: What’s it about?
Norbit (Eddie Murphy) hasn’t had an ideal life, even from the start he seemed doomed. He was abandoned as an infant and then raised in an usual fashion, living in an orphanage that doubled as a Chinese restaurant. As he was shy and kept to himself, the other children picked on him. His lone friend in those times was Kate, a kind girl who was always a good friend to him. But she was so sweet, she was soon adopted and Norbit was alone again, until Rasputia took an interest. Now as an adult, Norbit is married to Rasputia, a large woman with a bad attitude, but he isn’t living the life he desires. Out of the blue Kate (Thandie Newton) drops back into the picture however, which sparks true happiness within Norbit. She is back in town to take over the orphanage and she needs some help, so she reaches out to Norbit. Can he somehow find the happiness he has dreamed of now that Kate is back, or will Rasputia crush his hopes like always?
I didn’t expect much from Norbit, just a humorous diversion to pass the time. But even with low expectations, this movie managed to fall short and provide minimal entertainment. The success of Norbit rests on the shoulders of its title character, we have to like him and want him to succeed. But thanks to a flat performance from Eddie Murphy and some lackluster writing, we don’t care about Norbit and in turn, this movie in general. I couldn’t find a likable character outside of Kate and since Norbit and Rasputia drive the movie, that is bad news indeed. Murphy is usually able to play likable roles, but even his smaller, under the makeup roles come off as mean spirited here. I wanted this to be a kind of sweet, but humorous movie and instead, it plays as mean and over the top, going after all kinds of cheap laughs. I wanted to like Norbit, as I am a fan of most of Murphy’s similar work, but this movie sucks and as such, I can’t even recommend a rental.
Video: How does it look?
Norbit is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This movie made some good bank at the box office, but still showed up on home video at a fast pace. As such, the print is pristine and shows no concerns, as should be expected. The film’s vibrant color design is on full showcase here too, with rich and vivid hues throughout. I also found contrast to be smooth and accurate, so no detail is lost in the shadows. As far as overall detail, depth is solid, but again, I’ve been spoiled by high definition, so this doesn’t look as good to me at times. Even so, for a standard release this is a more than adequate transfer and to be honest, I could find few complaints to lodge here.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 is better than expected, with great musical presence and some terrific use of the surrounds. The music is expansive and takes root, which is good news, since it has a prominent role in the film’s audio, to be sure. The surrounds come to life often and add atmosphere to the film, as well as some power in a few scenes. I still wouldn’t recommend this as a demo disc, but it sounds great and really takes the material to its limits, in a good sense. The vocals aren’t lost in the least however, still clean and crisp at all times. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, a French language track, and subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes fourteen deleted scenes, as well as three behind the scenes featurettes. None provide much depth, but you will hear how much people love Eddie Murphy. The general piece focus on Eddie’s presence, Rick Baker describes how much he loves to design for the man, and the stunt squad talks about trying to keep pace with Mr. Murphy. Not substantial production data, but if you like Eddie, I guess you’ll like these. This disc also includes the film’s theatrical trailer.