Elementary, Dear Readers
How can the MPAA say, via the PG-13 rating this movie carries, that Nutty Professor II: The Klumps contains “some material [that] may be inappropriate for children under 13”? Children under 13 are the only ones who should, theoretically, find this alleged comedy funny. But the fact that the vast majority of the American moviegoing audience is emotionally 12 years old should ensure that this nightmare of elementary-school humor is a box-office smash.
If you think fat people are inherently funny, you’ll love The Klumps. If you haven’t gotten over your adolescent embarrassment about human sexuality, you’ll love The Klumps. If you think explosive flatulence and projectile shitting is funny, you’ll love The Klumps. But if you think that anyone older than 6 who still laughs at fart jokes should be ashamed, the three of you out there will want to steer clear.
College professor and genius scientist Sherman Klump (Eddie Murphy: Bowfinger, Mulan) is back, and as fat as ever… but remember, fat is funny. His family — all tiresomely played by Murphy — is back, and as fat as ever. Gone, though, is Carla, Sherman’s love from Murphy’s first foray in nutty professorhood — she is replaced, probably because Jada Pinkett was smart enough not to want to come back, by fellow college professor and genius scientist Denise Gaines (Janet Jackson). Denise, like Carla before her, is a paramour so enthusiastically and unreservedly in love with Sherman that she can generate little conflict and serve little dramatic purpose. But she smiles a lot and is very pretty and has big boobs, and to the 12-year-old mind, that’s good enough.
What threatens to ruin Sherman’s planned marriage to Carla– er, Denise is Buddy Love, Sherman’s obnoxious, testosterone-happy alter ego. Buddy previously only manifested himself as a side effect when Sherman drank his own genetically engineered weight-loss formula — see The Nutty Professor — but now Buddy, in a plot contrivance not worth detailing, ends up his own man, allowing yet another simultaneous iteration of Eddie Murphy to appear onscreen. The Klumps ends up feeling like The Fly meets Virtuosity — and later, with an enormous rampaging laboratory hamster, Night of the Lepus, and, with the effect Buddy’s removal from Sherman has on the professor, Flowers for Algernon — as written by the He-Man Woman-Haters Club (No Girlz Aloud).
How many writers does it take to come up with explosive flatulence and projectile shit? Five — count ’em — so-called writers share story and screenplay credit here: Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz, and Steve Oedekerk. I’d call that roster a Hall of Shame, except they’re sure to be the toast of Hollywood — along with director Peter Segal, whose biggest claim to fame is that he foisted both Chris Farley and David Spade off on the world with Tommy Boy — after this weekend’s box-office reports. Because the inanity does not end with fart and poopie jokes. Oh, my, no. Juvenile male fears about sex and women take center stage. There are constant giggly references to erections — looking at a girl’s boobs will give you one, you know, even if you’re, like, in public. Scary stuff… but we’ll pretend not to be frightened of our bodies (or so seems the writers’ train of thought) by making jokes about impotence, penis pumps, and Viagra. And girls? Ugh. There are good girls, like Denise, who are nice to look at but you don’t touch them (I can’t recall Sherman and Denise even kissing in the film), and bad girls, like Granny Klump, back in all her potty-mouthed, intensely aggressively sexual glory. Needless to say, Grandma Klump is extremely undesirable — she’s certain to be the hit of the film. I’m not sure, though, which is meant to be funniest (ie, the better with which to cope with fears of women): the concept of an elderly woman still interested in sex, or the unsubtle suggestion of an elderly woman getting naked, or an elderly woman who can talk of nothing, and in great detail, but doing the nasty. I shall have to find a 12-year-old boy and ask him.
Every time I thought The Klumps couldn’t get any worse, dear God, it proved me wrong. I didn’t think it was possible, but the Klumps are cruder, ruder, and more obscenely piggish than they were in The Nutty Professor — watch them scrape clean an all-you-can-eat buffet. The filmmakers still want, as in the original film, to force feed us a moral about being ourselves, no matter who we are (that is, whether we’re fat or not), while simultaneously using Sherman and his family’s size as the source of much cheap humor. “Pound for pound, he is a planet,” says Sherman’s boss, Dean Richmond (Larry Miller), and we’re supposed to boo him for that since he’s the bad guy… but are we allowed to boo the filmmakers for making Sherman shuffle his huge body through a narrow row of students in a classroom so he can sit in on one of Denise’s classes, when he should have known the bell was about to ring, ending the class? I realize that if Sherman had decided, as would have been the logical thing to do, to just stand in the back of the room, we wouldn’t be reminded that he’s fat, and how funny fat people can be, but it does seem as if five — five! — people who get paid, and paid well, to write could have come up with ways to ridicule the overweight that at least make a modicum of sense within the story.
What am I saying? These five guys — the poopieheads — want us to laugh at explosive flatulence and projectile shitting. I guess if I had actually been laughing at that, I wouldn’t have noticed anything else.