'Professor': Nutty Things Happen on the Way to the Formula


When it comes to comedy, kids tend to go for the gross. Give a character flatulence; put a child in heaven.

It's not surprising, then, that kids were most excited when "The Nutty Professor" was, ah, earthy. This latest star venture for Eddie Murphy frequently turned gassy, which all but thrilled Jeffrey Bush, a 9-year-old from Costa Mesa.

"The flatulence jokes were funny," he observed after seeing a screening with his mother, Eve, at the Edwards Hutton Centre in Santa Ana. "Everyone did them."

The "everyone" was the family of professor Sherman Klump, a huge man who desperately wants to be thin.

When not experimenting with a body- and personality-changing drug or wooing a colleague, he has dinner with his overweight kin, all raw and all played by Eddie Murphy.

"I couldn't stop" laughing, admitted 15-year-old Gwen Staples of Tustin. "I know that stuff is gross, but it gets to you . . . and it wasn't just that stuff" that amused her.

Murphy does show off his comic style in that smelly scene and throughout the movie.

When not settling for sophomoric gags, he digs in with clever asides on everything from Oprah Winfrey to randy grandmothers.

"[Klump's] grandma is really into sex," Staples noted.

From the parent perspective, Bush thought it was probably an OK flick for most families, although she worried that her son would be emulating Murphy's bathroom humor.

She liked that Klump is the hero and not Buddy Love, his hormone-driven, womanizing alter-ego.

"It said that how someone looks isn't that important. It was a love story, really," Bush said.

As for the other stuff? "If [Jeffrey] starts making those noises or [putting] his hand in his armpit, I'll nip that quick," she vowed.

Much has been made of "The Nutty Professor" signaling Murphy's comeback, a return to the kind of material that made him a star on "Saturday Night Live." That may be so, but most kids weren't even sure who Murphy is.

When asked about Murphy's comeback, Jeffrey answered, "Where was he?"

Hector Rubio, 11 of Santa Ana was also unfamiliar with Murphy's checkered career. Had he seen any of the actor's other pictures? Hector shook his head from side to side.

"I would [though], because he's pretty good," the boy decided.

Hector also liked the special effects, which have Murphy morphing repeatedly from Klump to Love.

Kids especially favored one of the last scenes, when Klump and Love fight for control of the professor's body.

Another scene that got them going comes when Klump has a nightmare and finds himself the size of King Kong, towering about the skyscrapers as people scatter below.

That moment, however, actually frightened Cynthia Mason, 8, of Costa Mesa. Her father, John, said she cringed when Murphy began marauding down the street.

He added that she was also unnerved by Love, whom Murphy plays as an in-your-face, nearly violent guy.

"He went too far, at least as far as my girl is concerned," Mason explained. "He was just too loud and excitable for her."

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