The Nutty Professor (1996)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Insecurity: A Comedy.

This film was selected from ‘The 250’

Eddie Murphy. You either love him or you hate him. Actually, most people just tend to hate him after such and such year. Me, I think he has a rather touch and go career where either his movie is great…or horrible…with no real happy medium in-between. As a youngster, I was introduced to the actor in more family-appropriate titles. The Nutty Professor is probably the oldest movie I initially knew him from, so the ‘90s version of Eddie Murphy is probably what I know him from the most. That makes me differ from most of you, but what can I say? I grew up in the ‘90s. That being said, The Nutty Professor isn’t as great as I remember it being.

Eddie Murphy, of course, plays Professor Sherman Klump. His entire role in the film is basically based around the idea that he’s a brilliant scientist that is trying to discover a miracle cure to obesity. His need to finish the treatment comes into full effect when he meets pretty Carla Purty (Jada Pinkett Smith). In the science lab, he creates a temporary fix to obesity, which transforms him into Buddy Love, an obnoxious, but confident thin man. Every time Klump takes a dosage of the treatment, Buddy Love gets more and more mean, empowered by egotism and selfishness.

The humor in this film is the same type of humor that you get out of Mrs. Doubtfire and The Mask. It’s all about physical and transformational humor. It was a really smart move back in 1996, because that fat suit was supremely well-made. It still looks really good nearly twenty years later. Eddie Murphy doing different characters/voices…it was all a very smart move…again…back in 1996. Nowadays, the comedy just doesn’t translate as well, and I think the reason for that is none other than Tyler Perry. If the man didn’t annoy the world with 16,000 Madea movies with 16,000 different characters…we wouldn’t be having this distraction…but here we are. Eddie Murphy did it first, and he did it better…but Tyler Perry still succeeds in washing it out like nothing. That means any new audience member watching this movie won’t be impressed. Thanks for that, Mr. Perry.

So a lot of what made this movie funny to begin with is unfortunately washed away, but one thing that remains strongly intact is the messages and heart of the film. You might initially think that this is a mean-spirited movie that makes fun of fat people, and in a way you’d be right, but that’s not what the movie was about. No, this movie was deeply about the right and wrong way to deal with insecurities. You can practically find the message everywhere – love yourself, it’s okay to be different, be careful what you wish for, popularity isn’t everything…the list goes on and on. If you’re reaching, you’d probably see a message that also states that performance enhancing drugs are bad. As far as strong messages go, this movie was doing things right.

If it weren’t for Eddie Murphy, I’d probably not care for it at all. If it were Tyler Perry in the lead role, I might even despise the thing, but Eddie Murphy is legend. He knows how to balance a scene properly between heart and humor, which was expressly needed here.

The Good:

There are still elements to this film that feel original, and those elements are what hold The Nutty Professor intact as a success. Eddie Murphy does a great job balancing between the two extremes of character in both Buddy Love and Sherman Klump.

The Bad:

A lot of what the humor was based off of just doesn’t work as well anymore, thanks to Tyler Perry’s annoying bombardment of Madea films. Eddie Murphy does an awesome job at playing all of these different characters, but the fact of the matter is…all I could think of during these scenes was Tyler Perry, and I hate that about myself. Also, this film required quite a few CGI scenes, and to be completely honest, those shots looked really bad. Finally, I just can’t figure out why skinny Buddy Love automatically has fixed eyes, shorter hair, and a different voice. Technically speaking, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The Random:

In the scene with Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle, their dialogue was mostly improvised.

5 thoughts on “The Nutty Professor (1996)

  1. Murphy’s portrayal of the various members of the Klump family is masterful. However, you make an interesting and valid point about Tyler Perry. My kids and I still watch this from time to time. It makes us laugh so it works. I think the reason Buddy Love can look completely different is because he’s not intended to just be a skinny Sherman, but a completely different and alter ego, and a projection of what Sherman wants to look like. In this sense, it’s really just a riff on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Same guy, completely different appearance.


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