The Nutty Professor - * * *

Eddie Murphy stars in this hilarious remake of the Jerry Lewis Jekyll-and-Hyde story. Murphy (in one of several roles) stars as Professor Sherman Klump, a shy and very overweight chemist. Klump is smitten by a new professor, Miss Purdy (Jada Pinkett), yet he is ashamed of his weight. He eventually gets desperate enough to try his experimental formula on himself, and transforms into the skinny and boisterous Buddy Love. Murphy plays Love, as well as several members of Klump’s rather large family, and even a Richard Simmonsish exercise guru. Murphy is surprisingly touching and tender as the gentle Klump. He manages to evoke sympathy for the kind-hearted professor. As Buddy Love, however, he seems to mock the excess of the Eddie Murphy persona. Love is Murphy’s wit and energy concentrated tenfold. His rapid-fire revenge upon a particularly hurtful insult comic is uproarious. And, although they must have been a nightmare to shoot, the Klump family dinner segments provide some of the film’s strongest laughs (as well as some of the cruder moments). Although the film covers some familiar territory, Murphy adds the essential humor to make it worthwhile.

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