Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:45 - Released 7/28/00

It's ironic that it took five writers to produce a script that is basically just a platform to let Eddie Murphy do his schtick. But what a schtick. Directed by Peter Segal, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps is a tour de force for Murphy, allowing him to expand (literally) the hysterically funny family of characters he created for just a few scenes in The Nutty Professor (1996). If the Klump family were portrayed by separate actors, this film would be a throwaway, but the fact that Murphy, playing six different characters, is in every scene (sometimes several times over) can't help but impress.

Written by Steve Oedekerk, Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield (three of the '96 Nutty Professor co-writers), plus brothers Paul and Chris Weitz (Antz), the plot of NP2K involves genius Professor Sherman Klump's continued possession by his thin alter ego, Buddy Love (Murphy without the fat suit). The film begins with a hilarious dream sequence where Sherman is at the altar with his true love, Professor Denice Gains (Janet Jackson), when Buddy pops out of his pants and disrupts the wedding. The good-natured Sherman is tormented by Buddy, who occasionally jumps into his brain and starts making him say rude, arrogant things that are antithetical to his normal personality. Needless to say, this also confuses Denice and threatens to derail their romance.

Luckily, Sherman and Denice have been collaborating on a new gene isolation/extraction process which is meant to further their experimental fountain-of-youth drug. Deciding to remove the "Buddy Love" gene from his DNA, Sherman uses the new, untested technology and reduces Buddy to a beakerful of goo. But Buddy escapes and promptly begins wreaking even more havoc.

The real joy in this film are the scenes between the several members of Sherman's family, all played by Murphy. His mother is a matronly woman of late middle age who wants only the best for her genius son, and is regularly appalled by the behavior of her other family members, especially their dinner conversations, which usually revolve around sex or bodily functions. Her husband, Sherman's father, who is suffering from impotence as a result of growing older, regularly engages in vicious verbal duels with his mother-in-law, the toothless grandmother who is still very sexually active and makes sure everyone knows it. Finally, Sherman's brother Ernie is an auto mechanic with a chip on his shoulder from having to live in Sherman's considerable shadow. Murphy endows all these characters with specific, varied mannerisms and attributes. His characterizations are full of energy and their interactions are hysterical.

Although Murphy must receive the lion's share of credit for the success of this film, there are other talents at work. Needless to say, a film like this requires much skill in the field of makeup, and Rick Baker, who won the Academy Award for his work in Nutty '96, expertly transforms Murphy again into his large (in more ways than one) family. Director Segal includes many little details of his own, like a number of amusing fantasy/dream sequences, one of which recalls themes from space films like Armageddon, Star Wars, and 2001. Jackson does an credible job portraying Sherman's love interest Denice, though her character is meant to serve only as the object of Sherman's affection and isn't developed much beyond that. Also present is comedian Larry Miller returning as Sherman's boss, Dean Richmond.

Not all of the jokes in NP2K land perfectly, but the scenes involving the several Murphy characters are fun to watch if only for the hilarious personal mannerisms he gives them. It's interesting to note that among the co-producers is Jerry Lewis, star of the original Nutty Professor (1963), who also co-produced the '96 version. Perhaps, being the "king of comedy," Lewis is able to recognize that even a disposable script like this can work if one has the right talent in the lead, um ... rolls. ****

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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