The Klumps (2000)

(aka: Nutty Professor II)

D: Peter Segal
S: Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson

The Klumps is the sequel to The Nutty Professor, star Eddie Murphy's surprise smash of 1996. It features Murphy (Life) as almost every member of an obese, cheerfully verbally abusive family. This in fact makes him most of the cast. When Tony Randall kept turning up in The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, it was part of the strange, magical atmosphere of the film. When Alec Guinness found himself being murdered eight times as various members of an upper-crust family in Kind Hearts and Coronets, it was irresistibly funny. The make-up effects required to allow Murphy to play almost all the Klumps are remarkable and Murphy's performances are a lot of fun. But where do you draw the line between a comic vehicle and an ego-trip? Are these characters inherently interesting and/or funny enough in themselves to warrant an entire second movie?

The Klumps picks up the story of the adventures of likable inventor/teacher Sherman Klump as he moves towards his long-planned wedding with Janet Jackson. Though his experiments are ongoing, it seems that his obnoxious alter ego Buddy Love has gone largely dormant. Unfortunately, stresses in his life and new developments in his research result in Buddy resurfacing again, and not just in tandem with Sherman like last time out, but now as a separate being capable of independent action. Meanwhile the rest of the family have various crises and issues of their own, including Mama and Papa's troubled love life, brother Ernie's shaky parenting, and unabashed Grandma's overactive libido. The script, written by the usual small committee, pays as much attention to these sub-plots as to the primary narrative. The result is that we are given a deeper level of characterisation of the titular family than usual in a comic vehicle where the actor plays only the lead. This actually works surprisingly well. The story has more momentum because of the extra plot, and there is a higher quota of gags.

Whether or not you will find them funny is another question. The profane, flatulent Klumps were a set piece last time out. They're still profane and still flatulent, but this time they're on screen for longer; being profane and being flatulent. Murphy is a talented comic with a great range in vocal characterisation. Aided by David LeRoy Anderson and Co.'s make-up, he convincingly plays a set of individual characters and even manages to play emotional interaction between them. They act like a family and their dialogue and relationships fall into reasonably recognistable patterns. Kudos is due to Murphy for making it seem believable. But it's still profane and there's lots of flatulence. Do we really need to see and hear this kind of stuff over and over again? Add to this some business with an amorous giant hamster and Grandma Klump trying to seduce Buddy Love and you've got a recipe for a real taste barometer. It is not quite Farrelly Brothers-type gross-out, but it is frequently tasteless, and it definitely will not appeal to all audiences.

The Klumps has some funny moments. There are one or two good gags and Murphy is great doing what he does. There is no compelling reason to recommend this film though. It is not particularly special in any respect (apart from the general interest of seeing the lead actor play so many major characters), nor is it all that funny unless you think of profanity and flatulence as the heart and soul of wit. If so, then may I heartily recommend it. If not, then I think it is pretty clear from the get go what you are dealing with here and the decision to view it is based entirely on your level of interest in the futher adventures of these characters and the particular comic style of its star. There are worse films out there, but the same can be said of almost anything short of Glen or Glenda? so it's hardly an unequivocal recommendation.

Review by Harvey O'Brien PhD. copyright 2001.

Note: The Region 1 and Region 2 DVD come with additional scenes of flatulence and profanity, some filmed from different angles...