Nutty Professor II: The Klumps

Comedian Larry Miller is a very funny comic actor. It’s too bad he has to get raped by a 12-foot hamster.

Such are the vicissitudes of “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps,” a movie that starts out so simple, yet becomes so convoluted; a movie that is uproariously funny one moment, but sadly pedestrian the next; a movie that has far, far too many flatulence jokes and jokes about old people having sex.

As the film begins, Prof. Sherman Klump (Eddie Murphy), the enormous protagonist of the successful 1996 film to which this is a sequel, is positively schizophrenic with this “Buddy Love” guy. Buddy is Sherman’s uninhibited Id, and Sherman finds himself saying and doing things reminiscent of Buddy’s behavior, which is ruining his relationship with fellow professor Denise (Janet Jackson).

He discovers the cause of the problem is that he has one gene that is abnormal — the Buddy Love gene. He extracts that gene from himself, freeing him of Buddy, but also causing his brain cells to stop working little by little, “Flowers for Algernon”-style. (Coincidentally, the dumber Sherman gets, the dumber the movie gets.)

As if that weren’t bad enough, the gene accidentally spills on the floor and is mixed with the dog DNA, causing Buddy Love to come to life in actual, physical form, but with many latent dog characteristics. Now Sherman and Buddy are competing against each other, as both try to sell a formula Sherman has invented that reverses the aging process.

Meanwhile (I told you it was convoluted), Sherman’s dad Cletus, lately impotent and depressed, gets a hold of the potion and finds youth. His wife, Anna, however, wants the regular Cletus back, as the movie attempts to trick us into thinking it has a point about true love or something.

(This is a movie in which a man in a space suit propels himself forward with his Herculean flatulence, and it wants us to take it seriously when it has something smart to say? Forget it.)

As in the first film, Eddie Murphy plays all the adult members of the Klump family, from over-sexed grandma to layabout brother. The special effects truly are amazing, as characters all played by Murphy interact with each other seamlessly. The makeup is flawless, too, and Murphy genuinely knows how to make these people real, from their hand gestures to their manner of speaking.

If only it were funnier! It has bursts of comedy, notably with grandma’s constant bickering with Cletus, and with Larry Miller’s sardonic college dean character. But then it dissolves into irrelevant parodies of “Star Wars,” “2001” and “Armageddon,” not to mention the abundant potty humor.

Gross-out humor can be funny, sure. But it seems oddly out of place in this movie. With such fun characters and so much potential for zippy comedy, turning to gags about a libidinous mutant hamster is a cop-out, as if the filmmakers feared that, in this day and age, you can’t have a successful comedy unless you push the envelope. The film’s moments of TRUE laughter prove otherwise.

C+ (; PG-13, fairly heavy profanity, abundant sexual references, abundant crudeness and vulgarity.)