Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A New Word: The Definition of the verb 'Norbit'

I've garnered a lot of respect for Anne Hathaway over the past few years, starting from when she first played a part that required more emotional depth than smiling and looking pretty: as Lureen Newsome in Brokeback Mountain. How she incorporated that film into her life showed a changing understanding of the importance of film. I could tell from her interviews on the promotional circuit that she had come to understand movies as having larger philosophical meanings than pure entertainment. While I haven't seen her new film, Rachel Getting Married, I've read enough reviews to know that I want to see it, and to know that Hathaway has a chance of winning a best actress Oscar for her part in the film.

Then Bride Wars came out, and it has the chance to Norbit her chances. "To Norbit" is a verb I'm going to try to spread around the internet and my circle of friends. It's defined as when an artist follows a remarkable aesthetic breakthrough with an unequivocal catastrophe that utterly blights any positive affects the earlier breakthrough could have had. The name is derived from the Eddie Murphy film Norbit, a film that was absolutely hideous in every possible way. The film Murphy made immediately preceding it was Dreamgirls, which was the best performance of his entire career. People were thinking about Murphy differently than they had in years. If he played his cards right, he could have began a new phase in his career as a serious dramatic actor. Then he made Norbit and flushed his credibility down the toilet.

Anne Hathaway is doing the same thing with the utterly superficial dreck that is Bride Wars, a film that raises the term 'chick flick' to new levels of offensiveness. It's bad enough that movies are made about brainless women who only care about frippery and shiny objects. There are women like this out there, and they need films for what they care about. But Bride Wars, from what I've read about it, combines that idiocy and superficiality with protagonists who are stupendously self-centred and mean. The result is a wretched piece of celluloid that could have been much better used making another David Gordon Green movie.

I'm not prepared to watch terrible movies now that I no longer work for radio stations or newspapers that are willing to pay for me to go. So I make judgements based on reading a consensus of critics I trust.

There's an old saying in Hollywood that's absolutely true: You're only as good as your last picture. If that's the case, then Anne Hathaway is no longer a brilliant young actress seeking bold, challenging, beautiful material. She is a crass hack who will do whatever miserable dreck has a paycheck attached.

I know she is talented, so I hope she chooses to let her next project make her brilliant again. Even if it's a full-length version of the short film below, it will be a step up from the Norbit-quality toxic garbage that so often floods the screens of mediocre cineplexes over the winter months.

Man Getting Hit By Football

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