Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Nutty Professor II: The Klumps

By Marc Savlov

JULY 31, 2000: 

D: Peter Segal; with Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson, Larry Miller, John Ales, Anna Maria Horsford, Melinda McGraw, Jamal Mixon. (PG-13, 110 min.)

"Comedy isn't pretty," said Steve Martin during his Cruel Shoes era, and Eddie Murphy proves Martin right ­ again ­ in this messy sequel. The original Murphy vehicle (itself a remake of the 1963 Jerry Lewis film) managed to resuscitate the star's flagging career, and while the remake was hardly a comic classic by anyone's standards, the sight of Murphy delving into his more sentimental side (via a fat-suit and full-appliance makeup, which turned him into the obese and lovestruck scientist Sherman Klump) was amusingly innocuous fare. One of the more interesting gags in that film had Murphy portraying the entire Klump extended family ­ Mom, Dad, Grandma, et al. ­ at a family dinner, lustily downing anything in sight and breaking wind with gleeful abandon. The Klumps takes it all to the alleged next level by giving at least twice as much screen time to Murphy-as-Klumps. Although the characterizations he comes up with are sporadically funny, the film seems weighted down, literally, with bulging, bulbous Murphys flatulating endlessly. The story follows Sherman as he struggles to voice his feelings of love toward co-worker Denice Gains (Jackson) while simultaneously dealing with the reappearing Buddy Love (Murphy), his now-you-see-him-now-you-don't alter ego from the first film. There's also a subplot about Sherman's quixotic quest for a mysterious concoction that can reverse the aging process. Love, the more interesting id character, is relegated to second banana here, showing up only to cackle maniacally before attempting to sabotage Sherman's already rocky life. The real problem with The Klumps has less to do with Murphy's many roles than the hit-or-miss style of comedy on display. Occasional guffaws exist here (they're featured prominently in the trailer), but this is a workmanlike piece of work. Toothless, sassy Grandma Klump is perpetually in heat, Sherman's befuddled Father Klump is a loudmouth with a heart of gold, and Mama Klump is a dotty, preening matriarch ­ nothing we haven't seen before, and did I mention they're all in dire need of some Bean-O? Comedy Central stalwart Miller, as the dean of Sherman's University, is nicely unctuous, but when is he not? Miller, whose big gag involves him being anally manhandled by a giant, libidinous hamster (!) is a fine, sourball comic when he's given decent material (and for that matter so was the Murphy of Trading Places and Coming to America),but this cardboard role merely makes you itchy for his biting standup routines (his "The Five Stages of Drunk" remains a modern comic classic in my book). There is one thing to celebrate in The Klumps, however, and that's Rick Baker's spot-on makeup effects work, which manages to spin Murphy's creative juices in not one, not two, but six different characters. There's a fine comic actor somewhere under all that foam latex, I tell you. Now if someone could just get the man a non-methane-fueled script.

1.5 Stars


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