In "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," Eddie Murphy resuscitates the lovable, ever-squabbling family that made the first "Nutty Professor" (well, second if you count Jerry Lewis' original) such a big hit.
It's easy to see why: Murphy plays eight characters in "The Klumps" and brings a dazzling amount of energy, focus and heart to what must have been a daunting thespian enterprise.
Unfortunately, his efforts aren't matched by the filmmakers, who have plopped Murphy's wonderful characters into a stock exploitation comedy that uses flatulence, scatology and even bestiality to garner laughs. As appealing as Murphy is as Sherman, the overweight science professor, and his family, "The Klumps" squanders him in a tired version of Farrelly Brothers redux.
"The Klumps" finds Sherman toiling away on a youth serum while longing for his colleague, Denise Gaines (Janet Jackson). When the two hit on a formula for eternal youth, Dean Richmond (Larry Miller) sees big dollar signs for their university. On the other hand Buddy Love, Sherman's slithery alter ego, believes he's entitled to a piece of the action. Sherman tries to do away with Buddy once and for all by embarking on a dangerous genetic experiment, which goes awry thanks to a little hair of the dog (literally).
Sherman finally screws up the courage to propose to Denise, but our beleaguered hero will have to wade through an hour and a half of stale jokes and awful gross-out gags before he gets the girl. "The Klumps" was written by the same folks who perpetrated "Ace Ventura," "Patch Adams" and "American Pie" on the movie-going public. Presumably to appeal to an adolescent audience, the writers have larded "The Klumps" with jokes about digestive functions, geriatric sex and body parts that are either too big, too small, sag or stick out. The situations the writers put the Klumps in are unfunny in the extreme. A sexual fantasy involving a toothless Granny in a hot tub with Buddy Love and a scene of a Godzilla-sized hamster having its way with Dean Richmond are just two sequences that may give the parents of PG-13 pause. But the characters themselves are warm, vivid and often hilariously funny. Murphy outdoes himself in protean pyrotechnics, managing to convey personality and genuine vulnerability even while buried under mounds of prosthetics.
The movie's most amazing scene is, where else, at an all-you-can-eat restaurant, where the Klumps' banter is so seamless that it's impossible to believe Murphy is playing nearly every role. It's the Klumps' family dynamics and Sherman's lovability, that make Murphy's "Nutty Professor" such a success. One can only hope they'll hook up with filmmakers equal to their characters for the inevitable "Nutty Professor III."
'Nutty Professor II: The Klumps'
Starring Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson
Directed by Peter Segal
Released by Universal Pictures
Running time 110 minutes
Rated PG-13 (crude humor, sex-related material)
Sun score: **