When the remake of "The Nutty Professor" did phenomenal business at the 1996 box office, the greenlighting of a sequel was almost inevitable. Though Eddie Murphy's large and lovable Professor Sherman Klump remained front and center in the first movie, it was Sherman's dysfunctional family, the Klumps (who were also played by Murphy), that clicked with audiences. Perhaps betraying a lack of any better ideas on which to base a movie, "The Nutty Professor" is back yet again, with more screen-time being devoted to the Klumps, in the aptly-titled sequel, "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps". Unfortunately, it seems that the sequel is yet another case of 'too much of a good thing'-- imagine being forced to spend two hours with the most boorish and annoying people in the world, and you get a pretty good idea of what "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" is like.
When we catch up with Professor Sherman Klump this time, he's working on a new youth formula that has the potential to reverse the aging process, for which a pharmaceutical company has eagerly offered $150 million dollars. In addition, he is also in the midst of a romantic relationship with a fellow professor, the comely Denise Gains (singer Janet Jackson), who is equally smitten with him, and it seems that they are destined to take a walk down the aisle together. With things looking up for Sherman, how could anything possibly go wrong?
Unfortunately, Sherman is also fighting an inner battle with Buddy Love (Murphy), the nasty alter ego that was unleashed in the first film. Though he hasn't been seen in person for awhile, Buddy Love has been making his presence known by occasionally taking control of Sherman's body, compelling him into all sorts of ungentlemanly behavior. Fed up of having to apologize for numerous Tourette Syndrome-like outbursts, Sherman decides to use an experimental procedure on himself to remove the 'Buddy Love' gene.
Though the procedure is successful, returning Sherman to his normal gentle self, there are a number of unanticipated side effects. In the process of removing the 'Buddy Love' gene, Sherman inadvertently removes his intelligence (as does the script), and gradually has his faculties slip away from him as he becomes dumber and dumber (just like the movie). Even more distressing is that the extracted 'Buddy Love' gene ends up being accidentally reconstituted by the chance combination of the gene, a dog, and some electricity (yeah, whatever). Thus, in addition to dealing with his own diminishing brainpower, Sherman must deal with Buddy Love in the flesh, who is out to steal the youth formula.
Eddie Murphy has always had a knack for creating characters. In his early days on "Saturday Night Live", his memorable characters included a grumbling Gumby, a grown-up Buckwheat, and his tell-it-like-it-is version of Mr. Rogers. When he moved into films, Murphy used his knack for characters in the "Beverly Hills Cop" series of films as a detective who used mimicry and over-the-top characterizations in his police work. In last year's "Bowfinger", Murphy played two diametrically opposed characters, the arrogant and anxiety-ridden movie star Kit Ramsey and his idiotic-but-sweet brother Jiff.
With this latest film, Murphy takes his love of crazy characters to the extreme, playing no less than eight unique characters. In addition to Sherman and Buddy Love, Murphy pulls extra shifts playing the simple Mama Klump, the ill-tempered Papa Klump, his dim-witted brother Ernie, the sex-crazed Granny Klump, Lance Perkins, and a younger version of Papa Klump. The scenes of the Klump clan are seamlessly edited and acted-- it is easy to forget that it is Murphy playing all those characters.
Unfortunately, technical achievement and Murphy's multi-faceted performance aside, "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" doesn't offer much else. Other than the novelty of seeing Eddie Murphy talking to himself, the conversations between the Klump clan are little more than thinly veiled attempts at stringing together a clothesline of insipid attempts at sex and scatological humor. When this type of humor is executed well and is actually funny, you get "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut", which, despite its similar reliance on toilet humor, was brilliantly subversive in its execution. When such humor is hastily thrown together with little thought or purpose, you end up with something as intellectually- and mirthfully-challenged as "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" (the same thing could also be said for the recent "Scary Movie"). The film truly shows its desperation with its lame parodies of "Armageddon", "Star Wars", and "2001: A Space Odyssey" all-rolled-into-one pointless dream sequence.
In addition, other than Murphy's virtuoso performance playing the majority of the characters, there's little worth seeing in the acting department. Jackson, who is a much better singer than she is an actor, is saddled with a character who spends most of the film smiling politely at the ill-mannered antics of the Klump clan-- yet she's supposed to be some Ph.D-brandishing expert on genetics. The same goes for Larry Miller ("Runaway Bride"), whose Dean Richmond character literally becomes the butt of a gag involving a giant tumescent hamster.
Like "Big Momma's House" from a month ago, "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" probably spends a little too much time worrying about the latex and not enough worrying about the script. Though there were a few jokes that did work, for the most part, it seemed that Eddie Murphy's latest offering was little more than an exercise in juvenile vulgarity-- just enough to cover the attention span of your average twelve-year old.