The Nutty Professor (1996) / Comedy-Sci Fi

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for crude humor and sexual refeences
Running Time: 95 min.

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Jada Pinkett, Larry Miller, Dave Chappelle, James Coburn
Small role: Montell Jordan
Director: Tom Shadyac
Screenplay: David Sheffield, Barry W. Blaustein, Tom Shadyac, Steve Oedenkirk

Review published January 10, 1997

One time unflappable box-office draw Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop III, The Distinguished Gentleman) takes his first step to resurrecting his floundering film career with this tour de force in which he plays a 400-lb. chemistry professor named Sherman Klump, who meets a beautiful fellow faculty member played by Jada Pinkett (Princess Mononoke) and resolves to take a special formula which instantly makes him the thin and fearless man he has always desired to be.  Unfortunately the formula has its side effects, exemplified by the fact that the thinner Klump (dubbed Buddy Love) is out of control sexually and morally, added to the fact that he eventually seeks to put an end to the larger and sweeter Klump.

Eddie Murphy is absolutely outstanding not only in the title role and as Buddy Love, but also in playing various roles as a Richard Simmons-like weight loss guru, his mother, uncle, father and grandmother.  The combination of Murphy's talents and some pretty amazing special effects almost made me overlook how truly bad this film really is.   

Almost.  Suspension of disbelief is crucial and I afforded it a tremendous amount of slack and was still scratching my head in bewilderment.  For instance, Klump's transformation to be thin makes him muscular, with no loose skin.  This is explained as "DNA restructuring" contained in the formula concocted by the professor.  Um...ok.  So how does that explain the difference in dialect of Buddy Love and Prof. Klump?  I also wasn't aware that DNA also determined the earring which Buddy Love sports.  If only the makers of this film had taken a little more care in this film in the little details it would have gone a long way to making it a good film.  

But they would rather let Murphy carry the weight of a threadbare script, cookie cutter characters, and an overall pervasion of stupidity in every aspect of the plot.  To Murphy's credit, he succeeds to a large degree.  After all, the film is a comedy and Murphy is very funny in it.  There are more than a few laughs to be had.  How much you enjoy the film depends on how forgiving you are in overlooking the bad points, and there are many, and just enjoying Murphy unleashed.   In fact, while I didn't think it was a good film, I wouldn't mind watching it again.

-- Remake of the 1963 film.  Followed by Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000)

Qwipster's rating

1997 Vince Leo