The Nutty Professor (1996)

This cruder, more sexualized update of the Jerry Lewis classic is also more consistently funny and imaginative. Eddie Murphy, in a terrific comeback performance, is Sherman Klump, a 400-pound professor who falls in love with Jada Pinkett and decides to try his weight-loss serum on himself. The result is the fast-talking, womanizing slickster Buddy Love, who is physically attractive but a rotten human being — Jerry Lewis’ Buddy as a stand-up comic instead of a singer. This new Buddy Love is, of course, Eddie Murphy as we’ve known him throughout his career, monstrously exaggerated; Murphy seems to be saying that he’s outgrown his old cocky persona, and his performance as the sad, humble Sherman is moving and engaging. There are the expected fat jokes (and a sprinkling of fart jokes — this is a Tom Shadyac film, after all), but by the end, nobody in the audience would prefer the slim Buddy to the huge but kind Sherman. Murphy also plays five other roles: Sherman’s mom, dad, grandma, and brother, and a Richard Simmons-like diet guru. Lewis was one of the executive producers (that was part of the deal when Jerry grudgingly sold the rights), though I doubt he had much creative input. Amazing make-up by Rick Baker. Also with Dave Chappelle, Larry Miller, and James Coburn.

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