NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS (2000) ***1/2 movie review by COOP

Posted on May 14th, 2008
Posted on May 14th, 2008

Anyone that saw the first remake of “The Nutty Professor” with Eddie Murphy, fondly remembers two segments of the film… the two scenes surrounding the Klump family at the dinner table. Universal Studios quickly realized the comic potential of the Klump family and decided to make them the focus of the sequel, “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps”. The wise decision will surely bring the studios a tidy profit from this imperfect, but funny summer movie.

I really enjoyed the original “Nutty Professor” with Jerry Lewis and Stella Stevens. I even had fun with the 1996-Eddie Murphy remake and the Klump family dinner scenes from that film, I regard as some of the funniest scenes I have ever witnessed in any motion picture. I was very much looking forward to this sequel focusing the obnoxiously witty, overweight family. Although it’s not as funny as the two scenes from its predecessor, it’s consistently funnier overall.

Eddie Murphy reprises the brilliant, pure and cheerfully overweight, Professor Sherman Klump. Along with his colleague and love interest, Denice Gains (Janet Jackson), Sherman stands on the edge of a breakthrough with a serum that can reverse aging. Although he longs to ask for Denice’s hand in marriage, he remains tortured by his split personality, the evil Buddy Love. When Buddy ruins Sherman’s proposal to Denise, Sherman tries to remove Buddy from his brain using a dangerous, gene-extraction experiment. The procedure backfires, setting Buddy free in a separate body and leaving Sherman with a degenerative brain condition. Chaos ensues as Sherman tries to keep Buddy from stealing his youth serum, while the Klumps and Denise get caught in the middle.

The plot is the least interesting thing in this picture. What is interesting is Eddie Murphy who astoundingly plays SIX different characters. Besides Sherman and Buddy, he also plays Mama, Papa Cletus, Ernie and Grandma Klump. The scenes involving the family are easily the funniest and the most outstanding. Murphy proves true comic genius by disappearing into his characters so fully, that you completely forget that the characters are Eddie Murphy in makeup. Janet Jackson’s character doesn’t get stretched too far beyond the limits of her abilities, but she does play her part superbly. She seems much more appealing than Jada Pinkett did in the last “Professor” film and plays the role with genuine sweetness.

I have to admit, I thoroughly admire and adore the character of Sherman Klump. Despite his crazy and dysfunctional family, he has become a lovable and fun person that puts a smile to your face. His family, besides Eddie (and possibly Grandma), are as lovable as they are flawed. The exchanges between them are jaw-droppingly funny, especially the zings that Cletus and Grandma throw at each other.

It’s unfortunate that these things outshine the shaky plot. Most annoying are the scenes with Buddy Love who seems to have been thrown in only to propel the plot. Also annoying is the nefarious character of Dean Richmond, played by Larry Miller. His scenes prove to propel only the grossest and silliest parts of the film, rendering him useless in my opinion. The true story should have only included Sherman’s courtship of Denise, the development of the youth serum and the antics of the Klumps. That would have been sufficient to give the audience the best scenes in the movie without the annoying, Buddy Love plot. Sure, it would have been more like sketch comedy than a movie, but that’s what made these two “Nutty Professor” movies funny in the first place. It seems, in comedies of this caliber, that plot truly gets in the way.

Every one of your kids will want to see this PG-13 movie. Accept it. What you need to decide is whether you think the raunchy jokes and some of the more disgusting elements of “Nutty Professor II” will go over their heads or not. If you don’t find these things too objectionable, then let them see it. It’s a guilty pleasure for all ages, just be prepared to be offended if you are sensitive to such material.

Scale of 1-5:
3 ½

Most refreshing elements of the film:
Everything about the Klumps. If Eddie Murphy can play six entirely separate characters in one movie and dupe your mind into forgetting that he’s behind the makeup, then he can do anything. Seeing him on the screen, figuring in the fact that he spent 6 hours a day having his makeup applied for each character, watching him act choreographically with himself in nearly every scene… the logistics of such a thing is staggering. I would love to see him win some kind of award for this, but the wish may be in vain. The Academy rarely bestows nominations, much less awards, to the actors of comedies.

Biggest gripe:
The geriatric sex and bestiality jokes. Is nothing off limits in comedies these days? Apparently not. Although almost all of these jokes are shown in the TV spots and trailers, they made my stomach turn instead of making me laugh. Films like “There’s Something About Mary” and “Scary Movie”, continually raise the bar in the attempt to give the audience the sickest and most outrageous jokes ever. Although “Nutty Professor II” never reaches that level of tastelessness, it gets close. Sure, we expected gas-passing and fat jokes, but did they really need to make it this obscene? Not really, considering that it wasn’t handled with enough style to make me appreciate it.

Biggest surprise:
That Hollywood saw the amazing potential of The Klump family and capitalized on it. It’s encouraging that studio executives made such a good call in taking the best element of the first film and made it into the entire focus of the sequel. I think that this will work terrifically to Universal’s advantage, seeing that is the studio that has made the most marketing mistakes recently (as well as some very lousy films). It’s always my hope that the Universal execs will make better decisions and prove once again that they are the most powerful studios in the business. Perhaps now things will change.

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