Logline: Rotund scientist Sherman Klump is back, ready to advance his career as well as marry the woman of his dreams, but his misogynist, morality-lacking alter ego Buddy Love keeps getting in the way. When Sherman extracts the part of his DNA containing his alter ego, Buddy becomes an autonomous being and runs amok.

This was another one of those movies of 2000 where I got an Entertainment Weekly advance screening pass, probably spent more driving across the Bay Bridge, parking, and buying popcorn than I would had I simply waited a day for the film to go into wide release. But I wanted to see movies before other people, dammit! I also continued the advance screening tradition and wrote a review for Ain’t It Cool News, but this one was rejected — as it should be — for not being far enough in advance of general release and, more importantly, was probably not very good.

It also wasn’t the first time I went out of my way to review a potentially terrible movie. A few months earlier, I had heard of a weeks-in-advance screening of “Battlefield Earth” at San Francisco’s Galaxy Theatre (R.I.P. 2005), saw the final pass given out mere minutes before I could get one, and dropped $20 for somebody else’s. In retrospect, this sounds very stupid. However, the film had no reputation as of yet, I could do whatever the hell I wanted with my allowance, it ended up in a pack of AICN reviews (this one I was proud of), and while in line I got through a massive amount of studying for the AP US History test.

Why am I telling you all this? Let’s pretend it’s because while, sometimes, ten years distance from a bad film amplifies the awful (i.e. “Big Momma’s House”), other times it allows you to get around your initial disappointment and see the film for what it really is. “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps” falls into the latter.

Is It Better Or Worse Than I Remember?

Surprised the hell out of me, but it’s better. No, it’s still not a good movie, but I got a fresh perspective on the film, far from my own personal hype — I borderline adore its 1996 predecessor — and found what works about it. Now, it’s not a terrible film. It’s still a forgettable one, and I never ever want to watch it again, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a good experience.

The movie has some successful bits, but it makes a lot of mistakes, some of which I’m not sure I could have solved. I personally think the film would have been better had they completely dropped the Sherman Klump stuff and simply made this a spin-off starring his family (as is tradition with Eddie Murphy’s films, he plays the majority of this family in varying states of Rick Baker fat make-up). Either that, or drop them completely. The good will generated on both sides in the first Murphy-starring “Nutty Professor” movie is almost completely destroyed by the sequel, and the ratio of Sherman-to-Klump screentime simply doesn’t work this time around.

But little gems are there. Sherman is still a fully realized character, a major surprise for those that follow Murphy’s career trajectory, and probably the most sympathetic character he has ever created. (Even more than Donkey, who doesn’t count anyway, as he’s animated.) And dammit, the Klumps themselves are funny, relatable, and even kind of realistic. But Murphy gets obsessed with the wrong jokes, the worst of which is the running gag about how horny Grandma Klump is. But when it’s an ensemble scene, with Murphy acting opposite Murphy (acting opposite Murphy acting opposite Murphy acting opposite Murphy etc.), it works.

See? I can’t solve it. Sherman isn’t the same character he was in the first film, and Buddy Love is almost extraneous. (Buddy acting like Buddy is funny, but Sherman acting like Buddy isn’t.) Too much of this dissipated character wouldn’t have worked. And yet, it’s also not funny if Buddy is his own being, separated from Sherman completely. In a way, this movie wrote itself into a corner almost immediately. The crux of “The Nutty Professor” (both original and remake) is about a man struggling with two very different elements of his own personality, and his ultimate choice of staying true to himself.

But…But…but maybe the Klumps are only good and funny in small doses. (Had they made more of a story around the Klumps getting their hand on the youth serum central to the plot, maybe that could have worked.) And thus, sequelitis attacks again.

And my head explodes. I am putting too much thought into a Klumps movie.

What’s Better About The Film?

  • Even before it began, I knew it had to improve in my mind. Why? Because it’s not “Norbit.” (Even though you can sense bits of “Norbit” slowly drifting in and out of this film.)
  • Wanda Sykes is very, very funny in this. She doesn’t really say anything uproarious, but I have always been obsessed with her delivery. I can’t think of one time where she hasn’t elevated a movie. Now, giving the same delivery at a White House Press Correspondents dinner? That’s a different story.
  • Sue me, but I laughed at the “Armageddon”/”Star Wars”/”2001” dream sequence. I hate myself for how much I laughed at Sherman farting to the tune of “Blue Danube.”
  • Any excuse to use “The Thong Song” is fine by me.
  • I must commend the film for one small thing. When Janet Jackson looks at Sherman’s files, which shows the progress of his brain’s deterioration, the numbers increase at a speed that makes absolute sense in the time frame given. Too often, there is a count-up or countdown that exist in “movie time,” which has absolutely zero to do with how much time has actually passed.
  • I actually remembered absolutely zero about this movie other than that the climax was shot at Union Station, and the Janet Jackson song (“Doesn’t Really Matter”) that was attached to it. And I liked the song in a dumb way. A song my sister described as sounding like a Pepsi commercial. Which is pretty dead-on. Or was that “All For You”? Does it matter? NO! I like them both!
    (I oddly remembered more about the “Making the Video” special, though, and kind of loved it for some inexplicable reason. Maybe because the video has NOTHING to do with the movie, yet is forced to insert the word “nutty” as many times as possible into the lyrics. YouTube that shit.)

What’s Worse About The Film?

  • All due respect to her career and marriage, but if Jada Pinkett Smith says “no” to a film, you know something’s wrong. (Oh shit, she was probably pregnant with Willow and was in the midst of raising the Karate Kid, wasn’t she? I feel like an asshole now. And no, I won’t research the exact dates.)
  • Oh boy. Because he was partially created using a dog hair, Buddy defecates like a dog. Funny…NOT! (Okay, him chasing a cat repeatedly screaming “pussy” gave me a chuckle.)
  • The unnaturally giant hamster bit could have been so freakin’ cool. In the final product, though, it’s just an excuse for bestiality rape and poo jokes.
  • Yes, the first film worked a great deal because of the incredible make-up work. But why did they think we as an audience wanted more bad CGI? There’s entirely too much of it here, and it’s a storytelling crutch. Have the effects serve the humor, not the other way around.
  • Wait, who has two of the four screenwriting credits? The Weitz Brothers, the guys who once were responsible for “American Pie,” “About A Boy” and “In Good Company,” but are now responsible for “American Dreamz,” “The Golden Compass” and the second “Twilight” movie. I spent too much time wondering what the hell they were thinking with this project. Let’s just pretend that they wrote the sweetness inherent in the script. I can’t prove it, but I can pretend.
  • No, Janet Jackson is not good in this. At all. Was Eddie Murphy just really horny when he suggested her? Evidence points to “yes.”

What Did I Learn From This Experience?

While Roger Ebert’s three-star review gave this film too much credit, his praise is actually very astute, and certainly made me rethink something as awkwardly titled as “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.”

Also, I’m not as good of a script doctor as I thought I was. Because my head exploded. You all saw it!

Advertisements