Parents should not be fooled by the PG-13 rating into thinking that it might be appropriate for middle schoolers and younger kids. The people who rate movies for the MPAA seem to think that if it’s a comedy and no one uses the f-word, anything goes. But parents should be warned that the people behind this movie include the folks who brought us “Ace Ventura” and “American Pie.” In other words, if there’s a bodily function — or dysfunction — to make fun of, you’ll see it in this movie.
This is a sequel to Murphy’s popular remake of the Jerry Lewis classic, “The Nutty Professor.” In that movie, overweight professor Sherman Klump (Eddie Murphy) experiments with a weight-reduction formula that turns him into the svelt but mean Buddy Love. As this movie begins, Klump is no longer turning into Buddy Love, but he finds Love’s nasty comments coming out of his mouth, especially when he is around dream girl Professor Denice Gains (Janet Jackson). He tries to eradicate Buddy Love for once and for all through genetic alteration, but when the excised genetic material is mixed with a dog hair, Buddy Love emerges as a separate person, albeit one who likes to sniff things and play catch. Meanwhile, the university wants to sell Professor Klump’s youth formula of $150 million, but Buddy Love wants that money for himself.
There are jokes about poop pellets shooting out of the rear of a giant hamster, an old couple having sex, and a middle-aged couple who are not having sex. At the screening, the seven-year-old sitting next to me leaned over to ask her mother, “Mommy, what’s Viagra?” In one extended sequence, intended to be humorous, a man is sexually abused by the giant hamster. Then there is a huge bulge that grows behind Dr. Klump’s zipper until his alter ego — or rather his alter id — Buddy Love bursts forth.
Eddie Murphy is phenomenally talented, and the technology is stunning. Together, Murphy, make-up wizard Rick Baker, and the special effects wizards create six different completely believable characters. They make it all so seamless that you will forget that one person is playing six parts (seven, if you count one brief clip shown when one character watches television). The high point of the movie is the credit sequence, with outtakes that show just how good a job Murphy does in playing the brilliant, sweet geneticist Dr. Sherman Klump, his loving but anxious mother, his father, insecure about losing his job (and who tries the youth formula), his jealous brother, his earthy grandmother, and Buddy Love.
The real shame is that somewhere inside this gross-out raunch-fest is some real acting and some real stories and characters we’d like to know better. Mrs. Klump is a sweet woman, struggling to keep her family happy. Murphy’s portrayal is genuinely touching, even moving, reminiscient at times of Carol Burnett’s best moments as Eunice. The romance between Sherman and Denice had a lot of possibilities — two brilliant but insecure scientists trying to connect to each other. Murphy allows us a tantalizing glimpse of how tender Sherman is, and how much he longs for Denice — until the next hamster poop joke comes along.
Parents should know that in addition to the examples given above, the movie includes many, many gross and raunchy episodes, including a harsh portrayal of the sexuality of middle-aged and elderly people. When the grandmother grabs a man for a big, sloppy kiss, he throws up.
Families who see this movie should talk about how we control our impulses, and about how understanding and accepting all of our thoughts and feelings is the first step in letting them help us instead of getting in our way. Families can also talk about how the people we love can help us feel better about ourselves.
Families who enjoy this movie may also like “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” in which Alec Guinness plays seven members of the same family.