When Ben (Red Foxx) discovers his wife Beatrice (Pearl Bailey) has run off with his own brother, he rushes to his son Norman (Michael Warren) to unload his tale of woe--only to discover that Norman has a secret lover: the effeminate Garson (Dennis Dugan.) Needless to say, Ben does not take it well, and numerous complications follow--including Ben's attempt to get Norman over being homosexual by fixing him up with a hooker (Tammy Dobson.) Unfortunately, this description of the movie sounds a great deal more entertaining than the movie itself.
Originally written for the theatre by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick, NORMAN... IS THAT YOU? was an absolute disaster on the New York stage. To give the play its due, I actually saw it staged in the 1970s as a community theatre production--and while no one would accuse it of being anything other than a shallow farce, the cast played so broadly and in such drop-dead manner that it proved quite amusing. It is a pity the cast of this film didn't do the same.
This is an atrociously performed motion picture. Red Foxx, one of the most hilarious comics of the 20th century, is about as funny here as yesterday's wash, Michael Warren (who later appeared on the television series HILL STREET BLUES to much better effect) competes with Foxx to see who can give the worst performance, and Pearl Bailey is not far behind; truth be told, only Dennis Duggan, Tammy Dobson, and a cameo by Wayland Flowers have any spark--and sadly, that is only in comparison with the rest of the cast.
Not only is the film badly performed, it looks bad. According to film lore, this was the first big screen effort to be filmed in videotape, which was then transfered to celluloid for project purposes--and believe me, it shows. The film has the look of a bad 1970s sitcom right down to the painted skyline seen through the windows of Norman and Garson's apartment.
Some films are so bad that they become funny, but NORMAN... IS THAT YOU? isn't one of them. I can sum up my reaction to this film in two words: miss it. Don't buy it, don't rent it, don't touch it with a ten foot pole. Just back away slowly and then run like hell.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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