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The first role is that of Norbit Albert Rice. The film opens with a joke concerning Norbit's parents throwing him to the curb from the door of a car as a baby. Norbit grows up in an orphanage, which is run by an Asian character who cannot pronounce "L" (also played by Eddie Murphy). He falls in love with fellow orphan Kate Thomas (Thandie Newton) and the two, as children, eventually pretend to marry each other with candy rings under a tree. The two are separated when she is adopted. Not long afterward, Norbit meets Murphy's other role; self-centered, domineering Fat Bitch Rasputia Latimore, who comes from a family of black racketeers. Norbit wallows in misery married to her, until Kate turns up one day. Kate as it happens, is engaged to sneaky, slick-talking businessman Deion Hughes (Cuba Gooding Jr). But Norbit is not to be dissuaded, and he starts aiming to edge away from Rasputia and win Kate back.
Norbit was a commercial success but the film was blasted by critics, largely for its subject matter, and Murphy picked up three Razzies for his various performances. Murphy had been considered a lock to win an Oscar for his role in Dreamgirls the same year; when he lost, many suggested the release of Norbit during the balloting process was to blame.
This film provides examples of:
- Abuse Is Okay When Its Female On Male: Throughout the film, Rasputia abuses Norbit both physically and emotionally. Although we're supposed to feel sorry for him, most of the abuse is Played for Laughs. But if the genders were reversed, then it would be a different story...
- Acting for Two: Acting for three, actually.
- Academy Award: Believe it or not, the film received an Oscar nomination, albeit for Best Makeup. So technically, we could refer to it as "The Academy Award-nominated Norbit." (At the ceremony, host Jon Stewart noted: "Even Norbit got a nomination, which I think is great. Too often the Academy ignores movies that aren't good.") Fortunately, the only trophies it collected were Murphy's three Razzies.
- Anti-Hero: Mr Wong is a Class IV or V, hard to say because it's implied he's a Cloudcuckoolander. He is an irresponsible, racist orphanage owner, but stands up against Rasputia's brothers and defeats her in the end.
- The Baby Trap: Rasputia uses this on Norbit when he is about to leave her. But we the audience know that it's a lie.
- Badass Grandpa: Mr. Wong, the orphanage owner. When Rasputia's brothers try to take his orphanage and threaten him, he leaps up onto the table wielding a harpoon and is about the only one in town they're afraid of (besides their sister). In the end, he defeats Rasputia by harpooning her in the "blow hole".
- Berserk Button: Rasputia doesn't like it when Norbit doesn't do what she tells him, and loses it when he stands up for himself and calls her "fat, ugly bitch". Even her brothers are scared of her.
- Betty and Veronica: We have two cases here.
- Kate (Betty), Rasputia (Veronica) and Norbit (Archie)
- Norbit (Betty), Deion (Veronica) and Kate (Archie)
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Rasputia is the biggest (literally and figuratively) threat to Norbit, and Big Black Jack is the head of the Latimore clan and the mastermind behind the plot to turn the orphanage into a strip club.
- Black Comedy Rape: Rasputia's sex with Norbit comes off as this.
- Butt Monkey: Norbit, pretty much throughout his life.
- Childhood Friend Romance:
- Heavily, heavily averted with Rasputia, who basically pushes Norbit around since childhood.
- Derailing Love Interests: Deion turns out to be a self-centered, unfaithful dick who wants to turn Norbit's orphanage into a strip club and has several children with different women.
- Fan Disservice: Rasputia thinks she must wear the tightest, skimpiest clothes imaginable.
- Fat Bitch: Rasputia.
- Henpecked Husband: The entire premise.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: "I'm coming at you with razor blades and lemon juice, boy."
- Jerkass: Rasputia, to the Nth Degree. It seems a lot of her self-confidence comes from her imposing figure.
- Kick the Dog:
- Rasputia runs over Lloyd with her car, breaking his legs, for no reason.
- She even threatens to kill some kids and doesn't care if it's in public.
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: The entire town gets one when Norbit finally stands up to Rasputia and reveals her and her brother's plan. Yeah, most of them are no match for her, but when she's defeated, they make up for it by chasing her brothers down and making them pay.
- Ms. Fanservice: Though literally eclipsed by the disservice of Rasputia, there are some nice scenes with Thandie Newton.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Rasputia. Like Rasputin.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: "Yes, Wong very racist. Don't like black. Don't like Jew either. But blacks and Jews love Chinese food. Go figure."
- Red and White Comedy Poster
- Running Gag: Norbert quietly calls her a bitch. Pretending he's shouting it to her.
- Sassy Black Woman: Taken Up to Eleven.
- Scary Black Man: All of Rasputia's brothers can be considered this.
- Talking to Himself: Norbit, Rasputia and Mr. Wong are portrayed by Eddie Murphy.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl