Sherman Klump is an incredibly fat and good-hearted man. He is a college professor on the verge of a breakthrough in DNA restructuring when he meets an admirer of his, named Carla, who is a teacher new to Klump's college. He is enamored of her, but is frustrated by his tremendous bulk. He then decides to test a formula on which he's been working on himself. He is then transformed into the lecherous swinger, Buddy Love, and romantic complications ensue.
Directed by: Tom Shadyac
. Starring: Eddie Murphy
, Jada Pinkett Smith
, James Coburn
, Larry Miller
, Dave Chappelle
, John Ales
, Patricia Wilson
, Jamal Mixon
, Nichole McAuley
, Hamilton von Watts
, Chao Li Chi
, Tony Carlin
, Quinn Duffy
. Music by: David Newman
Well, while it doesn't deny the necessity of self-improvement, it has the merit to assess the awareness of our specificity, our difference. And being aware of what we are stimulates the idea of our self-improvement as long as we keep aware of what we are not, and maybe the most important, what we can't and will never be. And the line between the incapability of this admittance and a low self-esteem is unfortunately, extremely thin.
And "The Nutty Professor" is a wonderful comedy for its positive and insightful message about self-acceptance through a very sympathetic protagonist, Eddie Murphy as Professor Sherman Klump. Murphy perfectly diluted all his flamboyance and sometimes obnoxious flashiness in a sweet, gentle and likable character whose occupation besides teaching in college is to make DNA experiences on hamsters in order to find some medical solutions against obesity. Yet obesity doesn't seem to be an issue in his own life, not until he meets Carla Purty, his new colleague, played by the eye-pleasing Jada Pinckett Smith. Naturally, he falls in love, and we realize that we just meet Klump at a pivotal moment of his life, obesity became an issue.
Tone-wise, Tom Shaydac's film finds the right balance between humor and sweetness. In one of the most hilarious cinematic family dinners, we meet the Klumps, a sight that works as a genetic alibi for Sherman's appearance. Eddie Murphy, who proved his chameleonic talent in such films as "Coming to America" is at the top of his game in "The Nutty Professor" where he's both a sweet and caring mother, a naughty Black mama, a mean-spirited blue-collar father, a superficial brother and Sherman Klump (the other character played by Murphy isn't featured in the scene, but you'd hardly recognize him as an Aerobic coach). The film, that won the Oscar for Best Make-Up, is the greatest credit to Murphy's talent when it comes to portray various characters.
But there's more than discussions about weight and some farting contest in that dinner (always hilarious and never vulgar), the scene concludes with a beautiful exchange between Sherman and his mother. She loves him like any other mother, she sees both an inner and a physical beauty and we don't laugh at that. Whether he believed her or not is not the point, we can only sympathize with this good man, who wants this inner beauty to express itself. And when in the next scene, he asks Carla for a date, we understand Mama Klump found the right words to encourage her son to overcome his shyness. Carla is not indifferent to Sherman and accepts the date unaware that it would lead to a disaster because the restaurant stars a stand-up comedian who roasts people in the audience.
Maybe I should have mentioned that the film is the remake of a Jerry Lewis' classic, but I don't think it's necessary since I know both stories are different. And I don't even think, the original is better just because it's the first one. All I know is I can more relate to a nerdy scientist who wants to be accepted by society than one who just wants to be a womanizer. Like so many great comedies like "Groundhog Day" or "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", there is a heart in "The Nutty Professor" and Eddie Murphy's so powerful that I could feel the way he felt. When everybody was getting their share of mocking jokes, he knew his turn was coming, and he would have it pretty bad (Dave Chappelle did a great job as the mean-spirited Reggie by the way), so when he tries to go to the toilet but unfortunately finds himself in the spotlight, we know the worst is to come.
Murphy is so good in that role that it was impossible for me to laugh at Reggie's jokes; I could feel Sherman's broken heart, the devastation not just from the jokes, but from the people's reactions. The following scene is almost a tear-jerker when Carla tries to console him, he hardly speaks, the man was victim of a bullying that was the culmination of all the violence he tacitly endured. This is the pivotal moment where he decides to test his own researches on himself and become Buddy Love, a sort of Alpha Male who's got every thing a man can wish. Basically, Buddy Love is Eddie Murphy playing Eddie Murphy in the most irritating way, I missed Sherman Klump as soon as he disappeared but I forgive Buddy Love, if only for the magnificent revenge against Reggie, where the sprinkler became the sprinkled.
Now, is the personality of Buddy Love irritating? I think it's the perfect representation of the way we indirectly perceive ourselves, since Sherman has low self-esteem, Buddy has exceedingly high self-esteem, it's his strength, his attitude almost embodies the whole 'Macho Man' theme song. Eddie Murphy mocks his own character as if he was aware that sometimes, being over confident can flirt with mean spiritedness, and he's so 'himself' that he manages to make us appreciate Sherman even more and this is the film's greatest message. I -'myself- had some issues with my appearance, and used to tell myself that I would be the most confident guy in the world if I had glasses, or if I were a few inches taller, but the meaning of our lives is not to wait for physical criteria to be confident and certainly not to compare ourselves to others, because that's the negation of our own specificity, and our capacity to contribute to the world on our own.
The climactic speech is something I could respond to, it's the beautiful coming to realization of a man who didn't value himself enough while he had all the reasons to. It's like Eddie Murphy acknowledging that there is this soft spot he too often hided, because everybody expected him to be the smart-ass streetwise guy.
Review by ElMaruecan82 from the Internet Movie Database.