Some poor souls are doomed from birth. At least at the movies they are. Norbit Albert Rice's run of bad luck begins when he's abandoned by his parents, who toss the swaddled infant out of a moving car at the Golden Wonton Restaurant and Orphanage. Two good things happen there before a 10-year-old not-so-little girl named Rasputia squashes the rest of his life: He's taken in and raised by the (mostly) charitable Mr. Wong. And he meets his childhood soul mate: a kind-hearted girl named Kate.
When Kate gets adopted and moves away, the quite-a-punch-packing Rasputia moves in and takes Norbit under her wing. Fast-forward. Norbit, still playing the role of everygeek, has married Rasputia. The years have piled on the weight for her, and she hasn't grown any kinder. She's a formidable force, the mean matriarch of their unhappy home.
Just when it seems Norbit's sorry sentence is sealed forever, he discovers that Rasputia is cheating on him ... and that Kate has moved back to town. The childhood sweethearts reestablish their friendship, and rekindle Rasputia's fury in the process. Only Norbit knows the whole story—and I was fervently wishing he'd kept it to himself long before the credits rolled. He doesn't, though, spending long, torturous minutes trying to summon the courage to confront his mountainous, adulterous wife (and her three wicked brothers), and prevent his beloved Kate from being conned into a duplicitous marriage.
Norbit and Kate are kind. Though Norbit is utterly henpecked, he still tries to make the most of his marriage (at least until Rasputia beds her aerobics instructor, Buster). When Norbit's not running errands, he puts on puppet shows for kids at the orphanage. Kate, too, still cares deeply for the orphanage, enough that she's willing to purchase it from the retiring Mr. Wong.
In true Beauty and the Geek style, Kate has a soft spot for Norbit, despite his clumsiness. And when he's not insulting Norbit, Mr. Wong wants his adopted son to succeed ("You can't run from your problems. ... You're strong like a warrior. You [can] survive anything").
Former pimps Pope Sweet Jesus and Lord Have Mercy take Norbit clothes shopping. The townspeople eventually rebel against Rasputia and her clan's mob-like extortion.
Norbit's soundtrack includes gospel songs that mention God, Jesus and heaven. The track playing during the credits testifies, "Jesus, You are my sun right after the rain/Wherever You are I just wanna be close to You/I've been looking for You/Nothing else will satisfy me/I'm so glad I found you."
It's too bad the movie doesn't portray Christians and their faith anywhere near as positively as these songs do.
Here are examples of Norbit's "prayers": "For the love of Cain," "John the Baptist, stop their plans!" and "Lord, just tell me why it has to hurt so GD much." (He always abbreviates "g--d--n.") He tells Kate, "I don't have to ask God for anything. As long as I have you, I don't need anything else."
Rasputia twice claims, "I'm a Christian." And she lectures Kate, "You're not going to blame God for how you're made." Rasputia apologizes twice to God for swearing in church (though she doesn't stop). Trying to delay a wedding, Pope Sweet Jesus and Lord Have Mercy take up an offering, saying, "White man, pay for your sins."
Most of the sexual jokes come at Rasputia's expense. Neither we nor a water park attendant can tell if she's wearing bikini bottoms because her fat obscures that part of her body. In a scene imitating Paris Hilton's car-washing commercial, a bikini-clad Rasputia soaps up a car in slow motion (body parts press against the glass). She jumps on Norbit three times in various fetish outfits; the bed collapses twice. She can't get in the car without her endowment honking the horn.
Rasputias's fat-suit chest is anatomically correct (her "nipples" are visible through clothes). A bathtub scene shows her bare back and the side of one breast. And a significant portion of her backside is visible as she plunges down a waterslide. The film concludes with her working at a Mexican strip club (wearing lingerie).
Buster dances suggestively with one woman, stares at another's crotch and seduces Rasputia. We hear the pair's sexual noises, and we glimpse Buster's bare backside after Norbit walks in on them. The next time Buster shows up, Norbit (who's smitten with Kate) tells him, "There's cold beer in the fridge and clean sheets on the bed."
Sexual references are nonstop. Frequent mentions are made of "hos" and "t-tties." Pretty much everybody assigns crude terms to sexual body parts—even about chickens. Jokes are made about lesbians, backseat sex, a man being gay, an inside-out condom, premature "objectation," becoming a prostitute, and so on. Rasputia's brothers suggest that children will be welcome at a new strip club they want to open.
Coyotes sniff baby Norbit after he's abandoned. Mr. Wong makes his orphans hold a wooden whale as he throws a real harpoon at it ("Right in the blowhole," he says, a phrase he repeats when he spears Rasputia in the backside with the harpoon later in the film.) A piano keyboard cover gets slammed on a man's hand. Norbit crashes a bicycle repeatedly.
Rasputia's mass causes quite a bit of physical damage as she runs through people and various barriers. She also bounces several orphans out of an inflated carnival jumping exhibit. She shoots off the end of a waterslide, through a wooden panel, and empties a swimming pool. She crashes a car and her breasts function like air bags. Norbit is tossed through a window. Etcetera.
In one of the film's few realistically violent scenes, Rasputia drops a speaker on Norbit's head and knocks him out. Kate playfully threatens the hospitalized Noribit with a defibrillator. Trying to extort local businessmen, Rasputia's brothers make a barber drink sterilizing liquid and force a restaurant owner's head into spaghetti sauce.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Rasputia is fond of wine coolers. Norbit guzzles one, too. (He tries to convince her not to drink when he thinks she's pregnant.) Kate and Norbit drink wine. A man drinks from a flask at Norbit and Rasputia's wedding. Mention is made of Jägermeister. People are seen drinking at a strip club. Rasputia and Pope Sweet Jesus smoke.
Other Negative Elements
After Norbit catches his wife cheating, he pursues a deepening romantic relationship with Kate (who's also engaged). The moviemakers obviously want us to feel Norbit is justified in doing so.
Mr. Wong has deeply racist and sexist attitudes (he carries on about how he hates blacks, Jews and women) even as he himself is depicted as a Chinese caricature. He cares for Norbit, but often says cruel things. And he tells a nasty story involving Norbit's getting bitten in the backside by a poisonous snake. Equally vulgar is a scene in which Wong shoves an offer to buy his business down his pants.
As children, Norbit and Kate are shown sitting side by side on toilets. As an adult, Norbit swears in front of the orphans while putting on a puppet show. Trying to run over a neighbor's dog, Rasputia manages to cut off its hind legs.
Rasputia lies to Norbit to convince him not to leave her, telling him that she's "with child" and mentioning in graphic detail how that's affecting certain body parts. She also passes gas loudly and talks about urinating in pools.
Publicity materials for Norbit name Eddie Murphy the "King of Comedy." I guess if your idea of good comedy is yet another movie featuring Mr. Murphy cracking crude-but-predictable sex jokes in a female fat suit and an old man's stage makeup, among other disguises, that title might indeed be accurate. Yeah, and morbid obesity, tired ethnic caricatures and brutally mean-spirited racist and sexist gibes are the height of hilarity.
Reviews of Norbit run the gamut from "thoughtless, cancerous, viral, irresponsible pollution whose existence speaks ill of the society that produced it" to "a strange, toneless collection of fat jokes, fart jokes and foul sex gags." Hollywood.com's Kit Bowen writes, "Eddie Murphy in another fat suit? What could possibly go wrong with that? Oh, plenty, let me tell you."
That, I think, just about sums it up.