This will save time. The joke in Norbit is this: Rasputia is fat.
That’s it. The joke. The sole basis for this entire movie.
To be fair, credit is due where it deserves to be, as Norbit was nominated for an Oscar, despite multiple Razzie awards. Rick Baker delivers stunning make-up effects, ones that turn Eddie Murphy into a white Korean orphanage owner and a 400+ pound woman. They are seamless, even if some of the digital effects that blend these characters together are not.
Beyond that, what is left of Norbit is an appallingly bad film. This is a one-note movie, yet it continues to find ways to be repetitive about its own joke. Rasputia (Murphy) can’t fit into her car, blaming her husband Norbit (Murphy) for moving the seat. Her chest hits the car horn not once, but around seven times during the film. The initial horn press might draw a snicker, while more makes it seem desperate.
Norbit himself is a scrawny, nerdy bookkeeper for a construction company. He marries Rasputia after his first love moves away, and lives under the threat of Rasputia’s hulking brothers discovering she is unhappy. There is some potential in this concept, although Norbit is an uninteresting, drab character. Murphy is at his best playing loud, obnoxious types, and Norbit never has a chance to break free from his shell.
Norbit wants to play off Murphy’s previous make-up classics, including Coming to America and The Nutty Professor. That’s fine, as no one in Hollywood can take on these roles better than Eddie Murphy. In Norbit’s case, there are no characters to latch onto and enjoy. Two pimps, played by Eddie Griffin and Katt Williams, are simply caricatures. There is no attempt to flesh them out to become more than your standard, clichéd movie pimp.
Like Murphy, there are two enormously talented, funny people stuck in a role(s) with little to do. Cuba Gooding Jr. continues his slide downward in a flat performance as the husband to Norbit’s true affection, Kate (Thandie Newton). That miniscule plot carries the film to each of its awful, forced gags.
None are worse than at a waterslide, where Rasputia climbs to the top, barreling down unable to stop, and flies through a wall, into another pool below which is then free of water. Rasputia’s repetitive calling card, “How you doin’?” is painfully overplayed here, along with the entire sequence. It serves no real point to the story, and purely exists to a show a mean-spirited fat woman slide down water. That should not be considered entertainment.
Norbit comes to Blu-ray with a high-bitrate AVC encode, a transfer with minimal problems. Detail is outstanding, revealing facial textures and individual stitches on clothing without any instances of aliasing or shimmering. The amount of work on the make-up effects is startling, down to individual pores.
Color saturation is high, giving the world of Norbit a candy-coated look usually reserved for a children’s film. Reds bleed slightly, although this is minor. Flesh tones are natural and accurate. Blooming is common, caused by some intentional use of diffused lighting. This is also causes a general softness, but not one that dilutes fine detail. Black levels are superb, rich and full of depth.
A basic Dolby Digital compressed mix is flat, with the only standout sequence being in the water park. The cheers and screams of children ring out in all channels. As Rasputia falls down the slide, bass picks up, and water splashes hit the rears. It is a pleasing sequence, one with accurate positional work and a fine low-end presence.
The rest of the film is front-loaded, the sole highlight being the exaggerated footsteps of Rasputia as she stomps around. Stereo separation is non-existent, leaving this center-focused mix to deliver its audio from the sole speaker.
A 21-minute making-of is padded with footage, but between the clips is a fine piece on the film, including its origins. Man of 1,000 Faces is a far too short piece on the make-up process, barely breaking the four-minute mark.
Power Tap is a fake advertisement for the video workout discussed in the film. Stunts of Norbit is an excellent look at Eddie Murphy’s stunt double and the issues of working within the suit. Fourteen deleted scenes are brief at eight minutes, but wisely cut. A photo gallery and trailer are straightforward.