Nutty Professor II: The Klumps

In “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps,” wedding bells are about to ring for brilliant scientist/professor Sherman Klump, but only if he can reconcile the split personality that inhabits his body. Klump may be large, but his immense girth isn’t big enough to accommodate both Klump and Buddy Love, his slick, genetically altered ego.

nuttyprofessor2Klump’s duality, brought on when he used himself as a human guinea pig for a new serum, was the basis for 1998’s “The Nutty Professor,” a remake of a Jerry Lewis comedy. In the remake, Eddie Murphy not only played Klump and Love, but most of Klump’s family. One of the remarkable things about the remake was Murphy’s ability (with the help of make-up artist Rick Baker) to play numerous roles and make each and every one distinctive.

There was a lot of madness and mayhem in “The Nutty Professor,” yet the film was grounded by the fine acting of Murphy, who gave the characters heart and soul. Who could resist feisty Granny Klump, whose risque dinner conversation was so outrageous you could bust a gut laughing so hard. Or Mama Klump, a constant ray of sunshine who finds immense pleasure in even the smallest of things.

The Klumps are back in “Nutty Professor II,” and even though the film is a little long in the tooth, their return visit is worth a look.

Murphy once again plays the loveable Sherman and his delightfully offbeat family, and the results are similarly successful. Murphy’s talent for mimicry allow him to not only create eight different characters, but make each and every one believable. When they share the screen together (thanks to state of the art digital compositing), Murphy makes it look so effortless that we forget how difficult it is to pull all of this off.

The screenplay by regular Murphy writers Barry W. Blaustein & David Sheffield and “American Pie” scribes Paul Weitz & Chris Weitz finds Sherman wooing fellow professor Denise (Janet Jackson), looking for the right moment to pop the big question. We instantly like Denise because she admires Sherman for who he is. Jackson is sweet as Denise, a perfect match for the love struck Sherman. You know she’s the right woman for Sherman after she attends an all-you-can- eat buffet with the family and more than holds her own.

While the writers rely too heavily on scatological humor (what did you expect from the writer’s of “American Pie”), their set-up and delivery is extremely serviceable. Not only do they get the characters from point A to point B, they provide them with enough side trips and mishaps to make this sequel worth your time.

When Sherman isn’t sweating over his pending nuptials (how he proposes to Denise is one of the sweetest moments I’ve seen in a recent film), he’s busy trying to perfect a new drug that acts like a genetic fountain of youth. The only thing stopping Sherman from getting the girl and the grant is Love, who starts to surface after two years. Even though he tries to suppress Buddy’s instincts, they still cause Sherman enough trouble and heartache to force him to do something radical.

It involves another experiment that’s supposed to isolate the bad gene and remove it. The experiment works, but produces two side effects. Buddy’s chemical extraction becomes electrified, and once mixed with the DNA from a dog (don’t ask), becomes a flesh and blood entity intent on stealing Sherman’s formula and his girl. The other drawback is that Sherman’s brain is slowly deteriorating, rendering him mindless.

The film’s biggest laughs come during Buddy’s attempts to steal the drug so he can claim ownership and reap the financial rewards. Busting into Denise’s bachelorette party, Buddy finds himself face-to-face with Granny Klump, who isn’t about to let him get away without getting some. Knowing that Murphy is playing both roles makes this scene especially funny. Watch them share spit after a soul kiss and try not to laugh.

Larry Miller returns as the condescending Dean Richmond, whose tolerance of Sherman is limited to his ability to produce in the lab. When Sherman’s youth serum promises to bring the college a $150 million paycheck, Richmond is very pleased. Miller excels at playing slime balls like Richmond, who think only of themselves. He has little time for Sherman, but doesn’t think twice about stealing his limelight. That is why it is fitting that what Richmond does to Sherman is done to him by a 10-foot mutant hamster. Turnabout is fair play.

You really have to see “Nutty Professor II” to believe it. The first film barely touched on the movie magic on display here. Not only does Murphy’s numerous characters share the same frame, they now interact physically. The dinner scene at the all-you-can-eat buffet is a remarkable feat, showing characters exchanging items like food and plates. The digital compositing is seamless.

So is the direction of Peter Segal, who honed his comedy chomps on such films as “Tommy Boy” and “My Fellow Americans.” Segal does a splendid job of mixing humor and heart. A good comedy director knows how to get the most mileage out of a joke without sacrificing the integrity of the characters or the scene, and Segal does just that. He understands that for the larger than life stuff to work, the characters have to be sincere and believable. They are both.

Technically, “Nutty Professor II” is solid. Dean Semler’s cinematography is as bright and cheerful as David Newman’s musical score. Fans of the first film will appreciate “Nutty Professor II.” It’s more of the same, which in this case is not a bad thing. Parents might object to the edgier material (the sexual innuendo is constant), but that shouldn’t stop kids from enjoying the broader aspects of the film. They may not know or even care what that giant hamster is doing to Dean Richmond. They’ll just laugh at the sight of a 10-foot hamster. Heart and hamsters. It’s that kind of movie.

NUTTIER THAN EVERProfessor sequel offers more Murphy madness


Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson, Larry Miller, John Ales, Richard Gant, Anna Maria Horsford, Jamal Mixon in a film directed by Peter Segal. Rated PG-13. 110 Minutes.


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