Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000)
Directed by Peter Segal
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson, Larry Miller, John Ales, Richard Gant, Anna Maria Horsford, Melinda McGraw, Jamal Mixon, Gabriel Williams.
2000 106 minutes
Rated: (for crude humor and sex-related material).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, July 28, 2000.
Following a string of unsuccessful movies in the early '90s, comedian-actor Eddie Murphy's sagging career once again sprung to life with 1996's "The Nutty Professor," a rollicking, wildly funny remake to the 1963 Jerry Lewis comedy. The film worked because of its then-rauchy humor, genuine sweetness, and the ability of Murphy to star in not one, not two, but a dozen diverse roles. Its cameo appearances of robust scientist-professor Sherman Klump's whole family, including Pop, Mama, Grandma, and brother Ernie (all played by Murphy) were arguably the film's brightest and funniest two scenes, as their wisecracking interplay and obvious relations to each other put Murphy at the top of his game.
Since audiences loved the Klump family, and the picture made well over $200-million worldwide, Universal Studios has seen fit to give audience's more of what they want with the self-explanatorily titled "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps." It couldn't possibly miss, right? Wrong. With the summer movie season already unleashing the no-holds-barred comedies, "Road Trip," "Me, Myself & Irene," and "Scary Movie," "Nutty Professor II" attempts to dig lower than its predecessor to come up with wall-to-wall sex and flatulence jokes, but in a season when it seems only R-rated comedies are the way to go, this PG-13 movie comes off as not only tame by comparison, but also oddly outdated. If this were the only problem "Nutty Professor II" had, the proceedings wouldn't have been so bleak. Ultimately, not only is the film unfunny--and shockingly, drowse-inducingly so--but its screenplay, by Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Paul Weitz, and Chris Weitz, is a haphazard blend of jumbled, incomprehensible storytelling and humor that falls flat on literally every occasion.
Overweight, lovable genius Sherman Klump (Murphy), who had to battle his suave, slim, rude, and crude alter ego Buddy Love until he realized it was alright to be himself in the 1996 original, is back, still teaching at the local university and with a pretty, sweet-natured girlfriend in Denise Gaines (Janet Jackson). Just as they joyfully begin to plan their wedding, Sherman is horrified to discover that a DNA strand of Buddy Love that was left undetected within his body is threatening to resurface. Meanwhile, the randy Klump clan have problems of their own, including Pop's impotence, Mama's sexually starved dissatisfaction, and Grandma's potential player ways and myriad conversations about "relations" and "getting it on."
It's not completely clear how the comedy in "Nutty Professor II" fails, whether it be in the editing (which is too fast-paced for its own good), writing (can you say the word, "L-A-M-E?"), overexposed Klump family (a little of this bunch turns out to go a long way), or all of the above, but somehow, nothing at all works here. Not the giant hamster that fires out dangerously large balls of feces and rapes a man. Not the human head that startlingly pops out of Sherman's zipper in an opening dream sequence. Not the acid-tongued exchanges of the Klump family. Not the character that farts and sets a restaurant on fire. For almost two hours, you sit there, forced to watch as a string of seemingly endless inanities pass before your eyes, without any rhyme or reason for being. Too much of the picture also relies on sentimental emotions that rarely seem authentic. To prove how passe the humor is, one scene alone recycles two of the biggest laughs to be found in "Me, Myself & Irene," but without that picture's perfect timing and joy of filmmaking. Thinking back on those individual moments in "Me, Myself & Irene" even now, they still manage to tickle the funny bone. Now moving my memory to the replicas in "Nutty Professor II," they are almost painful to recall.
"The Nutty Professor" may not have been an example of concrete, believable storytelling, but at least it made sense. In an attempt to cash in with this sequel, director Peter Segal (1995's "Tommy Boy") has constructed a film that jumps around in subplots at each chance it gets, and has things happen out of the convenience of moving forward in the so-called action, rather than concentrating on the characters involved. A youth serum that causes its subjects to shrink in size plays a big part here, but later on, when the subject grows to an enormous size after taking the very same formula, no explanation is given for why this happens. The reason it does is merely to include a throwaway sequence where a hamster sexually humiliates a human being that has mistakenly put on a fur coat to hide from the giant beast.
Eddie Murphy has an obvious talent in playing a variety of different roles, even in the same movie, and the visual effects that seamlessly blend all of his characters into the same frame, as they touch and pass by each other, is well-done. So is the make-up, that successfully hides Murphy behind mounds of latex and, in Grandma's case, an overwhelming amount of sagging wrinkles. And, you know what? Who cares, when there is nothing around to support its technical wizardry?
Try as he might, the forgettable writing causes Murphy to be an afterthought (even though he appears in every scene), and Janet Jackson (in her second film role after 1993's "Poetic Justice") manages to come away from everything relatively unscathed. For what it's worth, she doesn't even embarrass herself while playing a brilliant scientist. It's just too bad her character of Denise, for all of her supposed brains, is made to be written below normal intelligence, as it takes her far too long to realize something peculiar is going on with Sherman when he begins to act strangely.
"Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" is vacuous in both its ideas and presentation. It's rare to find such a high-profile comedy that is as purely inept as this one. If anything, "Nutty Professor II" should thank its lucky stars that "Battlefield Earth" was released earlier in the summer, because if not for that motion picture debacle, I would have finally found the summer movie to beat in terms of its utter badness. Regardless, let it be known that a spot has now been specially reserved on my year-end worst of 2000 list for the Klump family.
©2000 by Dustin Putman