Away from the hubbub over raunchy content (which indeed pushed the limits of the PG-13 rating) that surrounded its theatrical release, the hit sequel to the equally successful 1996 comedy can now be seen for what it is: a sparkling tribute to the amazing skill of Eddie Murphy. Returning as Sherman Klump, the professor of the title, four of his family members, and Sherman’s mischievous alter ego Buddy Love, Murphy delivers a performance–rather, performances–of unparalleled comic virtuosity. Never does one get the sense that each character Murphy plays isn’t their own, whole human being, with heart behind their comical qualities.
An extra helping of Murphy’s talent is included in Universal’s Collector’s Edition DVD in the form of a much longer alternate take of the film’s raucous restaurant scene as well as an outtake reel featuring footage not included in the film’s closing credit blooper montage. Another deleted scene, featuring Murphy and co-star Janet Jackson, is also featured, but it’s a non-comic throwaway that was understandably excised from the final film.
Beyond Murphy, Nutty Professor II was also an impressive technical achievement. The makeup work was crucial in the creation of his multiple characters, and one is treated to time lapse glimpses of Murphy’s transformation into two of his roles. Given how extensively Murphy’s characters interact with each other throughout the film, each sequence had to be mapped out in advance, and one interesting special feature presents side-by-side comparisons of storyboards and finished sequences. The makeup and tricky effects work are also addressed in the “Spotlight on Location” making-of featurette.
Anyone looking for more insight into the production are better off avoiding the tiresome feature-length commentary by director Peter Segal. Segal fancies himself a comedian, the reasons for which are completely lost on the unfortunate listener, who must suffer through lame joke after lame joke. The off-putting air of self-satisfaction is compounded by his recurring comments about how certain scenes received so many laughs from audiences at both test screenings and regular engagements. The film’s second commentary, a back-patting “conversation” with Segal and producer Brian Grazer that only covers the film’s first 25 minutes, isn’t much better, but at least it’s considerably shorter.
Specifications: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen; English 5.1 Surround; French 5.1 Surround; English subtitles.