Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson, Larry Miller, John Ales, Richard Grant, Anna Maria Horsford, Melinda McGraw, Jamal Mixon, Gabriel Williams, Nikki Cox, Wanda Sykes
Written by: Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz
Directed by: Peter Segal
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude humor and sex-related material
Running Time: 106
Date: 07/24/2000
IMDB

Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

More Klumpy Than Nutty

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It seemed like a good idea at the time: take the funniest bits from Eddie Murphy's hit 1996 comedy The Nutty Professor -- his family, the Klumps -- and make them a much bigger part of the sequel. I have bad news this morning. This was not a good idea. Not at all. Nutty Professor II: The Klumps joins the long list of the worst movies I've seen this year.

What made the Klumps (all five parts played by Eddie Murphy) funny in The Nutty Professor was that they were comfortable with their own grotesqueness. All the fat comedians throughout history; like Fatty Arbuckle, Lou Costello, Oliver Hardy, and John Belushi, have been comfortable with their identities. They seemed in charge of themselves, and that gave us permission to laugh at them. In the new movie Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, the Klumps all have personal lives and little problems of their own. The filmmakers thought we might be able to identify with them on this level, but the only thing that happens is that they become not funny. Why would we laugh at someone's sexual problems or someone's jealousy of his smarter brother?

Sherman Klump (Murphy) is back and this time with a new girlfriend, Denise, played by Janet Jackson, who has as little to do here as Jada Pinkett did in the last film. Sherman is working on a youth formula and Denise on a method of extracting unwanted DNA. Sherman decides to extract Buddy Love, his alter ego from the first film, from his brain, accidentally bringing him to life. Meanwhile, Sherman keeps losing his intelligence and must get Buddy back before he gets really dumb. If he doesn't, he'll become dumb enough to actually enjoy this movie.

Every joke in this movie is telegraphed way in advance. Director Peter Segal, whose credits include Tommy Boy (1995) and My Fellow Americans (1996) is not known for his grace, intelligence, and subtlety. Apparently he and the various writers (including Barry Blaustein, who I spoke with earlier this year) thought it would be easy to ape the typical fart jokes and sagging breast jokes of the Farrelly brothers. It's not. Every joke is given away full minutes before they actually happen. For example, Sherman's formula makes a hamster grow to 8 feet tall. Someone hides under a fur coat and tries to crawl away from it. What do you think happens next? Not only is it obvious, but the filmmakers milk this joke over and over for the rest of the movie.

Nutty Professor II: The Klumps fails on every level except for two: the special effects and Eddie Murphy's performance. This movie tops itself in putting multiple Eddie Murphys on screen at the same time. An early scene in a restaurant features five Eddies, plus Janet Jackson and countless extras in the background. One single shot has Jackson accompanied by Mama Klump to the table, where she then sits down next to Sherman, interacting with both of them in the same shot. The shot continues with Mama carrying a plate around and other Eddies taking food from the plate. It's amazing. Too bad it's nothing more than a complex parlor trick. It's also too bad that there's no Oscar for Best Performance in a Bad Movie, because Murphy has it hands down.

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