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Movies You Aught Not Watch: Norbit

by on September 8, 2010
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Movies You Aught Not Watch is Nick Rogers’ weekly, alphabetical look back at the 52 worst films of 2000-2009.

Rated PG-13

Many of us will die knowing Eddie Murphy once was a fast-talking, inventive funnyman. Baited by candy-colored junk like 2007’s “Norbit,” our kids will never know how that sensation felt.

Table the argument that Murphy’s making movies for kids because “Norbit” wore its PG-13 rating like elastic-waistband pants. (It appealed an original R rating, likely awarded for still-intact pubic-wax jokes and mean Chinese snuff-film wisecracks.)

Murphy plays three roles: the title character, who has the self-confidence of a dying gnat; his psycho wife, Rasputia, a grossly overweight abusive bully whose “love” feels a step above prison rape; and Mr. Wong, proprietor of a combination Chinese restaurant and orphanage. When Norbit’s childhood sweetheart (Thandie Newton) returns to town to purchase the orphanage, Norbit sets out to ditch Rasputia.

In all, “Norbit’s” a sweatier hell than the fat suit in which Murphy is trapped. Other than paydays, the only reason for “Norbit’s” existence is again showcasing the late Rick Baker’s makeup work — professionally applied as always, but here in service of a script seemingly thrown together by a co-writing Murphy between makeup-chair sessions.

As that writing goes, “Norbit’s” wretchedness would be incomplete without mentioning the contributions of hack screenwriting duo Jay Scherick and David Ronn.

Easily the worst comedy writers of the Zeroes, they will have not only three films on this list by the time it’s done, but — as the writers of last week’s “National Security” — two in two weeks.

Bravo, sirs. A special place in cinematic hell certainly awaits you.