Norbit (Eddie Murphy, channeling Buckwheat and Woody Allen) is a shy, nebbishy fellow, raised by Mr. Wong (Eddie Murphy again) in a combination orphanage/Chinese restaurant in Boiling Springs, Tennessee. As a child, Norbit comes to love Kate, a fellow orphan, but the soulmates are separated when Kate is adopted. Enter Rasputia, an aggressive, plus-sized 10-year-old who protects him from bullies and demands his romantic loyalty, much like her thuggish older brothers demand "protection" money from all the merchants in Boiling Springs. Rasputia and Norbit eventually marry--and the peevish adult Rasputia is played to great comic effect by Eddie Murphy in a fat suit. Although Rasputia is controlling, unfaithful, hideous-looking, and always madder than a hornet, she and Norbit make a life together, albeit one based on inertia, fear, and complacency.The bubble bursts when the now-grown Kate (Thandie Newton) returns to Boiling Springs to buy Mr. Wong's orphanage. Norbit's love is rekindled, and he must find a way to end his loveless marriage, save Kate from marrying a crooked philanderer (Cuba Gooding Jr., in a rare villainous turn), and prevent Rasputia's brothers from carrying through with a big con job that would destroy the orphanage and Kate's life. Eddie Murphy, not surprisingly, carries the show, with broad, juvenile humor, fat jokes, and pratfalls, and while he never aims very high, he manages to inject some poignancy into Norbit's and Wong's characters, even as he plays Rasputia strictly for laughs. It's not Shakespeare--it's not even BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE--but the laughs are as big as Rasputia's muumuu.
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