Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps - Collector's Edition (2000)
Studio Line: Universal Studios - The Klumps are back!

America's funniest family is back for seconds! Eddie Murphy is hilarious when he stars as the entire Klump family in this enormous comedy blockbuster. The hilarity begins when professor Sherman Klump finds romance with fellow DNA specialist, Denise Gaines (Janet Jackson), and discovers a brilliant formula that reverses aging. But Sherman's thin and obnoxious alter ego, Buddy Love, wants out…and a big piece of the action. And when Buddy gets loose, things get seriously nutty. Now, it's up to Mama, Papa, Ernie and Granny Klump to throw their weight around and save the day in this whopping, gut-busting comedy Good Morning America calls an "incredible piece of filmmaking." Applauded by audiences and critics alike, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper give Nutty Professor II: The Klumps "two thumbs up."

Director: Peter Segal
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson, Larry Miller, John Ales
Box Office: Budget: $84 million. Opening Weekend: $42.518 million (3242 screens). Gross: $123.241 million.
DVD: Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9; audio English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1; subtitles none; closed-captioned; single sided - dual layered; 20 chapters; rated PG-13; $26.98; street date 12/5/00.
Supplements: Spotlight On Location: The Making Of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps; Feature Commentary with Director Peter Segal; A Conversation with Director Peter Segal and Producer Brian Grazer; Deleted Scene: The House Fantasy; Extended Scene: The Restaurant; Makeup: A Time-Lapsed Look At The Makeup Application; Storyboards And Final Feature Comparison; Outtakes; Janet Jackson "Doesn't Really Matter" Music Video; Theatrical Trailer; DVD-ROM Features And More!
Purchase: DVD | Music soundtrack - Various Artists

Picture/Sound/Extras: A-/B+/B+

What goes up must come down, as Eddie Murphy inevitably learned in the late Eighties and early Nineties. After quick success as a Saturday Night Live cast member and a string of hit movies such as 48 Hours, Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop established him as a huge box office draw, Murphy got too big for his britches. Ill-conceived vanity projects like The Golden Child and his musical album “How Can It Be?” show that he really started to believe his own hype.

As such, Murphy experienced a long slump. He continued to sell tickets after the debacle that was 1986’s Golden Child - both 1987’s Beverly Hills Cop II and 1988’s Coming to America proved financially successful - but after that, he spent many years in the wilderness. Flop after flop ensued, a trend that even some returns to the well - with 1990’s Another 48 Hours and 1994’s Beverly Hills Cop III - couldn’t reverse.

And then Murphy discovered the Klumps. In 1996, he starred in a remake of Jerry Lewis’ The Nutty Professor and audaciously played multiple roles. Mainly he appeared as tubby but sweetly lovable professor Sherman Klump, but Murphy also acted as Sherman’s handsome but nasty alter ego Buddy Love, the result of some weight loss experiments.

The comic frenzy encountered through those two characters might have been enough, but one aspect of TNP that endeared it to audiences was the Klump family. Here, Murphy briefly but effectively took on the parts of four additional characters, all of whom were Sherman’s relatives: Papa, Mama, brother Ernie and Grandma. (Murphy played Richard Simmons-clone Lance Perkins in one scene as well.)

To the surprise of many - including me - TNP proved quite successful at the box office and also was pretty well-regarded critically. The movie finally got Murphy’s career back on track, and though he’s been inconsistent since that time - with bombs like Metro and Holy Man - he’s nonetheless shown signs of the versatile and accomplished performer who endeared himself to crowds so many years ago. Finally Murphy seems to have learned to bury much of his ego and get back to comedy without the baggage, and it’s been a generally fun trip.

One thing we’ve learned through Murphy’s renewed success is that there’s possibly no one out there better at playing multiple roles. He took on two different parts in 1999’s terrific Bowfinger and almost single-handedly made it a great movie; the fact he didn’t get an Oscar nomination remains a shame. After that, Murphy took things even farther for 2000’s Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, a sequel that lives up to its name by giving us Klumps, Klumps, and more Klumps. The bigwigs at Universal saw what worked with crowds and decided to give the people what they wanted.

Frankly, I thought chances were excellent that NPII would bite. I anticipated an over-the-top gross-out flick that sacrificed any semblance of story or structure to provide lots of “wacky” Klump material. I also expected farts - lots of farts.

Much to my surprise, the finished film was not what I thought I’d get. Yes, NPII contains quite a lot of semi-tacky humor. There are quite a few gags based on nauseating sexual acts - which involved giant hamsters or old ladies, mainly - and the movie occasionally strays into somewhat unpalatable territory. However, it’s nothing compared to a typical offering from the Farrelly brothers, and unlike their nasty works, much of NPII seemed fairly sweet and endearing.

It’s also often pretty funny, mainly due to the wondrous talents of Murphy. Here he plays the same roles seen in the first film but they’re expanded. For one, the Klumps get much more screen time in the sequel; they dominate the movie and all get their own subplots. Sherman remains the focus, but it’s a fairly balanced affair that interweaves the others’ tales with his own invention of a youth formula and his continued battle to suppress Buddy’s internal influence.

As such, Murphy spends almost the whole movie in some form of heavy make-up. When he plays Buddy, he gets to appear as himself, but otherwise he’s loaded down with prosthetics, most of which involve fat suits. He also portrays a younger version of one character, which still involved make-up, but at least let him be thin.

Murphy pulls off all of the roles wonderfully well. It’s simply remarkable to see how different he seems as all of the characters. Really, if you didn’t know better, you might never suspect that one actor took on all those parts; his versatility shines as he makes each Klump - and Buddy - a unique creation that easily stands alone.

While each of the Klumps is interesting, I must admit that I most enjoyed Murphy as Buddy. I liked the insanely over-the-top maniacal quality he offered the character, and NPII features a terrific twist that makes the role even more unique; I don’t want to give it away, but let’s just say that the Buddy we see isn’t fully human. Murphy adopts these other characteristics and integrates them wonderfully in a terrific performance.

One other fun aspect of Buddy is that the role actually shows Murphy as he gently pokes fun at his own public personality. It’s not an overt parody of his “larger than life” self, but it’s a far cry from the wannabe sexy, suave character he tried to adopt in all of those films that tanked. As with Kit in Bowfinger, Buddy demonstrates that Murphy may finally be able to look back at his excesses and laugh, and I love to see this; I think his apparently new-found perspective is the reason we’re seeing so much solid work from him.

Without Murphy, NPII would likely be a dud. The movie itself is a pretty pedestrian affair. Janet Jackson appears as Sherman’s girlfriend Denise and looks radiant but adds virtually no spark to the proceedings. Director Peter Segal moves the film along at an acceptable pace, but his main contribution is to get out of Murphy’s way. Nutty Professor II is Eddie’s baby, and that’s all there is to it. It lives and dies with Murphy, and I’m happy to say that it mostly thrives.

The DVD:

Nutty Professor II: The Klumps appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As a whole, the picture looked just about the way I’d expect it to appear; it’s a solid presentation.

For the most part, sharpness seemed crisp and detailed. Some mild softness crept into a few wider shots, but these instances were rare. Most of the film looked well-defined and accurate. Moiré effects appeared during some scenes that included blinds, but otherwise they seemed absent, and jagged edges presented no noticeable concerns. I detected minor artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV. Print flaws seemed non-existent. I saw no signs of grit, hairs, grain, scratches, tears, blotches, nicks, speckles or other defects; it was an appropriately-clean image.

Throughout the film, colors came across as warm and natural. Hues seemed accurate and solid and showed no bleeding, noise or other problems. Black levels were nicely deep and dark, and shadow detail was terrific. All low-light scenes looked clear and appropriately-opaque without any excessive thickness. Ultimately, the movie presented a fine image that was consistently satisfying.

Also quite good was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of NPII. As is typical of comedies, the soundfield stayed pretty firmly in the forward spectrum, but it spread nicely within those limitations. Music dominated the track and the songs provided positive stereo separation. Otherwise the mix generally stuck with appropriate but unspectacular ambiance. The rears contributed audio that usually came from that model, though a few scenes appeared more lively. For example, one segment in which a thunderstorm occurred brought the surrounds to life, and another that depicted an explosion also was nicely encompassing. We also heard the voices of the “internal Buddy” come from all around, which was an effective touch.

Audio quality appeared consistently solid. Dialogue seemed natural and crisp with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music was clear and smooth and presented the songs in an appropriate manner. Effects appeared clean and realistic and offered some strong dynamics. Bass response was often very good; for example, the roars of the giant hamster seemed deep and rich (though his footsteps should have packed more of a punch). All together, the audio for NPII appeared fine and it seemed appropriate for a movie of this sort.

One odd aspect of this DVD: the subtitles consistently refer to Papa Klump as “Clesius”. The credits never state his name - they call him “Papa” - but it sure sounded to me like it should be “Cletus”. I don’t know if this was a mistake by the people who did the subtitles or if I just can’t hear, but it seemed strange nonetheless.

The Nutty Professor II DVD includes a slew of extras, starting with a running audio commentary from director Peter Segal. As a whole, this is a fairly interesting piece. A lot of the information can also be heard elsewhere, but Segal nicely illustrates a variety of different subjects. Most compelling to me were his remarks about all of the changes through which the script went; I enjoyed these looks at the ways the story was altered. Ultimately, it’s an above-average but not spectacular commentary.

Next up is a featurette that’s part of the “Spotlight on Location” series. This 24-minute program is actually more interesting than most of these pieces. It mainly focuses on the technical aspects of making the film through a combination of cast and crew interviews and movie clips. We learn a lot about the issues related to Murphy’s various make-ups and some other sides of creating the picture. It’s an interesting though unspectacular program.

The “Conversation with Director Peter Segal and Producer Brian Grazer” is really a mini audio commentary. The two men interact as they watch 25 minutes and 35 seconds worth of scenes from the film. It’s an odd piece; I wonder if they tried to record a full commentary but the results were too dull so we got an edited piece instead. In any case, the remarks heard here are generally interesting as they discuss some of the film’s main issues (Janet Jackson’s casting, the hardships endured by Eddie to play so many roles). There’s little new or especially compelling, but it’s an entertaining enough listen.

We discover a deleted scene and an extended segment. The former is called “The House Fantasy” and shows Sherman and Denise as they consider buying a home; it lasts about 80 seconds and is mildly interesting but unspectacular. The latter is a longer version of the Klumps’ visit to the all-you-can-eat restaurant. That one goes for 10 minutes and five seconds, which adds almost four minutes of footage. It’s more fun than the deleted scene. It’s clear that some of the excess was snipped for pacing reasons, but it’s still an entertaining piece; it would have lasted too long in the finished movie but it’s cute to see on its own.

Two make-up featurettes appear as well. Each of these shows the process through which Murphy went via time-lapse photography. “Eddie to Papa” lasts about 80 seconds, while “Eddie to Ernie“ takes 125 seconds. They offer a neat little look at this art.

The “Storyboard to Film Comparison” takes a look at four different scenes and lasts a total of about nine and a half minutes. The presentation is traditional, with the board on the top half of the screen and the finished film on the bottom. These were moderately interesting but didn’t do a lot for me, mainly because the boards and the movie were very similar; storyboards are fun mostly when they differ from the final product.

“Outtakes” provides two minutes and 20 seconds of the usual flubs and improvs. The presence of Murphy makes these a little more interesting, but not much. We get a music video for Janet’s “Doesn’t Really Matter”. It’s not a great clip, but at least it varies from the usual lip-synch/film snippet formula as Janet romps around with some girlfriends in a futuristic setting. The piece is happily free of many shots from the movie; we see a few, but it pretty much stands on its own.

“Cast and Crew” includes brief biographies of Murphy, Jackson, actor Larry Miller, director Segal, and producer Grazer. Within this area, we can get a trailer for the 1996 Nutty Professor. That same clip also appears in the “Recommendations” area. “Production Notes” give us some decent text about the making of the film. Most of this information has been heard elsewhere - the same five stories are told repeatedly throughout these supplements - but they synopsize the production neatly.

NPII adds some DVD-ROM content. “The Family” gives us additional biographies, most entertainingly for the Klumps themselves. There’s also a “Family Album” with a few photographs.

“The Story” offers a variety of extra material. “Makin’ It Happen” includes some brief interview clips from Murphy, Jackson, Miller, director Segal and make-up artist Rick Baker. “Soundtrack” just tells us what’s on the album and also links to the Def Jam website. “Music Video” grants us another opportunity to see Janet’s clip for “Doesn’t Really Matter”, while “Filmmakers” adds some biographies not found on the main supplemental area. “Dirty Laundry” gives us some “interviews” with Sherman and Granny. “Misteaks” includes some addition outtakes.

One notice about all of the video materials found above. For reasons unknown, a lot of them simply wouldn’t run on my drive. They all require Quick Time, but since I have that program, and since some of them worked fine, I have no idea why I experienced such inconsistency. Anyway, this problem meant that I couldn’t actually screen all of the features.

“Nutty Stuff” includes some computer-related materials. Four different “Wallpaper” photos appear, and there’s also a “Screen Saver” you can install. The “Nutty Browser” will Klumpify your Internet access, while “Download Granny” will give you a virtual grandma to skate across your screen. Lastly, the “Games” lets you make your own movie poster and you can challenge a hamster to get through a maze. Was I able to beat him? No comment.

“Nutty Features” simply offers access to all of the supplements also found on the main DVD. Finally, the DVD-ROM area provides links to: Universal DVD Newsletter; Universal DVD; Universal Home Video; Universal Pictures; and Universal Studios.

Since the “forced trailers” found on some Buena Vista DVDs bother so many, I suppose I should also mention that Universal have followed suit to a degree. We get the usual ad before the movie - it’s the exceptionally-loud bit that starts when George Clooney flicks his lighter - and one additional promo. That one precedes the Clooney ad and touts the DVDs of Jurassic Park and The Lost World. These don’t really bother me, but they are something of a nuisance.

Although I expected Nutty Professor II: The Klumps to be a gross and stupid affair, it actually presented a generally fun and witty experience. This happens almost totally because of the presence of Eddie Murphy; he single-handedly makes the film work. The DVD offers fine picture and sound plus a bunch of fairly interesting extras. Nutty Professor II definitely deserves a screening.

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