Beverly Hills Cop II and III, Another 48 Hours... Eddie Murphy's never been one to turn down a sequel. Especially when he gets the chance to slap on more latex than Martin Lawrence, Mike Myers and Robin Williams put together.
In the first Nutty Professor, Murphy gave perhaps his best ever performance as Sherman Klump, a lardass boffin whose attempts to lose weight turned him into loverboy sociopath Buddy Love. The rest of Sherman's family - - gruff dad, doting mom, jealous brother and toothless, sex-crazed granny - - had only fleeting appearances, guffing up a storm at the dinner table.
Now the Klumps take centre stage in a sequel which allows Murphy to indulge yet again his perverse fascination with rubber prosthetic appendages. Special effects have progressed to the point that there's nothing to stop Murphy interacting with himself, and Nutty 2 often has up to five Murphys sharing a scene (and getting to snog himself ). Boy, he must love that make-up chair.
Nothing succeeds like excess, which maybe explains why director Peter Segal multiplies the coarse, juvenile humour of the original by the power of 50. You want flatulence? Gluttony? Grotesquely drooping mammaries? You've come to the right place. Spare a thought, too, for Larry Miller, who as Sherman's testy dean is obliged to suffer the indignity of being buggered by a giant hamster (created when Buddy laces Sherman's ageing potion with Miracle Grow).
Yet beneath the ho-hum gross-out humour (those Farrellys have a lot to answer for), there is some genuine comic flair: an amusing parody of Armageddon, a nod to Cape Fear and a subplot which sees Sherman's father use his son's elixir to restore his flagging sex drive. Murphy's hyperactive delivery makes the dialogue hard to decipher, especially when all of his lardy creations talk over each other. But his scenes with Janet Jackson reveal a tender side to his persona which provides a welcome respite from the movie's taste-free antics.
Jackson might seem a curious choice as Murphy's romantic interest, yet it's actually perfect casting: thanks to Michael, she's no doubt used to the idea of someone altering their physical appearance every five minutes. Her role couldn't be more thankless if it tried, but she smiles prettily, avoids the furniture and even manages to keep a straight face as Murphy hogs the limelight on his way to another hefty pay cheque. This time, though, the studio definitely gets its money's worth.
One Eddie Murphy is more than enough for most people, so approach this Klumpathon with caution. There's much to enjoy, though: superior special effects, deft parodies and Murphy bringing an unexpectedly human dimension to his blubbery caricatures.