While his charismatic, surprisingly touching "Dreamgirls" performance positioned Eddie Murphy as an Oscar frontrunnerEddie Murphy!he certainly won't need any victory speeches for his latest flick, the dreadful "Norbit."
The nicest thing we can say about Murphy's work here is that he fully inhabits the trio of characters he plays: bespectacled, meek-voiced nerd Norbit; frighteningly obese villainess Rasputia; and cranky Chinese restaurateur Mr. Wong. But all three are so grotesque and offensively stereotypical that the technical skill behind his acting becomes entirely moot.
As children, the hulking Rasputia protects orphaned Norbit from bullying, and as soon as the two reach adulthood, they marry. When Norbit's former orphanage companion Kate (Thandie Newton, "Crash") re-enters his life, he naturally thinks of leaving his cheating, overly domineering wife. But Rasputia does everything in her power to stop that from happening.
Existing solely as the butt of racist, misogynist and fat jokes, Rasputia is one of the most despicable characterizations in recent film history. And when the movie isn't trying to mine her size or crazy-bitch attacks for laughs, it falls back on the most lowbrow toilet humor imaginable.
Director Brian Robbins ("Varsity Blues") can't disguise that the film was shot on cheap-looking studio backlots, ensuring a viewing experience as ugly as the subject matter. If a comedy is going to be so relentlessly vulgar and mean-spirited, is it too much to ask for it to at least look polished?Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times