Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Something's ‘Wong’ with Eddie Murphy’s Norbit

Once again, connections to the hilarious motion picture comedy Cloud 9 are figuring into the Oscar® race-- and this time it's a question of whether Best Supporting Actor nominee Eddie Murphy is right-- or Wong.

Last Oscar®time, Cloud 9, the movie written and produced by Burt Kearns and Brett Hudson of Frozen Pictures, along with 2005 Best Picture Academy Award® winner Albert S. Ruddy (Million Dollar Baby) was shown to have a connection to each and every nominee in every major category— most especially the surprise Best Picture winner (as well as to every Best Picture winner of the past 11 years).

This season, it’s Eddie Murphy, who’s hoping to win a statuette® for his work in Dreamgirls— but mostly hoping voters have forgotten or forgive the primadonna behaviour of his heyday, the time he was caught picking up a transvestite hooker on Santa Monica Boulevard when he should have been filming Dr. Dolittle (the hooker later died in a mysterious fall), and his unchivalrous treatment of Scary Spice.

Some say the ubiquitous ads for Eddie’s new movie comedy Norbit, in which he plays multiple characters including an obese black woman, isn’t helping his cause. And neither is the fact that in Norbit, he plays a stereotypical “Chinaman.”

A stereotypical "Chinaman" named “Mr. Wong”!

Mr Wong! Cinephiles and social activists will remember that the cross-racial casting of a character named Mr. Wong took place in last year's smash Burt-Reynolds-and-beach-volleyball-strippers DVD hit Cloud 9 — currently available for sale and rental on 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment DVD.

Paul Rodriguez (like Murphy, a minority actor and comedian) played the "original" Wong-- a Latino landscaper masquerading as a stereotypical "Chinaman" in order to enhance his work opportunities in Malibu. The sly social comment within the controversial role adds a sophisticated undercurrent to the already-outre class comedy in Cloud 9 (though many of the script's nuances were ironed out in the direction)-- and was recognized as sharp social comment at the time of the Mexican American protests in Los Angeles and other cities.

Both "Wongs" wear hats and glasses to achieve the race-shifting transformation— though Rodriguez played his character convincingly without the elaborate prosthetics employed by Murphy.

Murphy’s lack of originality in “ripping off” the character created by Brett Hudson and Burt Kearns of Frozen Pictures, along with two-time Academy Award® winner Albert S. Ruddy (he also won Best Picture for The Godfather), could work against him with Academy® members. Then again, if the Wong character in the script he wrote with his brother Charlie is considered an homage to Cloud 9, the connection can only help.


Anonymous said...

Has Eddie Murphy 'Made A Really Big Mistake?':

The LAT examines the potential impact a racist/sexist dumb comedy might have on Eddie Murphy's Oscar chances.

Tabloid Baby accuses the actor of stealing the character from Cloud 9.

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