As they say in "Casablanca," I’ve been misinformed. Still, most of the responsibility rests with me.
I was misinformed by the promising cast of "Norbit" — Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Clifton Powell, Cuba Gooding Jr. — a bunch of talented folks.
My fault: not connecting the title with those horrid advertising snippets where an 800-pound female Murphy squashes a quasi-male Murphy like a bug, with an unbelievably stereotyped bucktooth "Chinese" Murphy doing unspeakable things.
Honestly, I did not make the connection, and perhaps if I did, I might have thought those previewshots don’t tell the whole story.
Well, in fact, Murphy-squashing-Murphy is not the worst thing in "Norbit," although it’s repeated many times.
The worst thing in "Norbit" is the whole of it: a nonstop, unrelieved, offensive, unfunny gross-out of unprecedented juvenile vulgarity.
Take it from an incorrigible movie fan who enjoyed half (the first half, specifically) of "Ishtar" (supposedly the "worst movie ever") and, more recently, found the cinematography of several otherwise terminally vapid movies "interesting" — there is nothing worthwhile in "Norbit" whatsoever, not even watching the beautiful Newton behaving like a fig here.
Brian Robbins, a TV producer in real life, is maligned here as the director.
Along with Eddie and his brother Charles Murphy, Jay Scherick and David Ronn (co-writers of the Martin Lawrence-botched "National Security") came up with a story of gore, body-function accidents and the relentless pummeling of men, women and children of all races, although with more venom and contempt for African-Americans and Asians than the few token whites suffer.
What is the plot, beyond skinny Murphy being married to, and squashed by, elephantine Murphy? I don’t want to spoil it, but basically that’s what the story is.
"Norbit" sets a new standard for the worst Hollywood can conceivably produce.
Norbit (no stars)
Starring Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Clifton Powell, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Written by Eddie Murphy, Charles Murphy, Jay Scherick, David Ronn
Directed by Brian Robbins
Running time 1 hour, 50 minutes