In Norbit, Eddie Murphy is like a xylophone player who keeps banging away on the same two discordant notes; unfortunately, those monotonous, off-key tones are the characters he's playing.
Norbit isn't one of Murphy's best; it's a poor cousin to his other family comedies, and as Rasputia, whose catchphrase is a brassy "how you doin'?," he's surprisingly unfunny.
A quick paycheck may sound like a good idea when you're a creatively tapped comedian making trash like Daddy Day Care. But when you're a suddenly serious comeback kid aiming for an Oscar?
Murphy looks like he's in pain, and he probably is -- latex cellulite can't be fun to wear -- but his anguish is as much existential as physical, trapped inside a lumbering vehicle that offers a morbidly obese harpy as the main comic attraction.
This borderline-PG-13 comedy demands the sort of sociological scrutiny that often has the moviegoer looking for a fun night out rolling her eyes. And granting Norbit consideration feels like swinging a sledgehammer at a microbe.
There is potential all over this film, but every scene is overwrought with unfunny caricatures and tired jokes. We've seen every gimmick and sight gag before, in better, funnier films.
This dismal comedy joins a growing pile of Murphy disasters (The Haunted Mansion, Daddy Day Care, I Spy, The Adventures of Pluto Nash), which may have made his Oscar nomination for Dreamgirls a foregone conclusion -- if not now, when?