Plot: What’s it about?
“The Nutty Professor” was one of those remakes that was risky to do. In a sense, there really was nothing wrong with the original starring Jerry Lewis, but introducing this film to a new generation of movie-goers is what remakes are all about, right? Just kidding. It’s all about the money and we all know it. Why come up with a completely original idea when you’ve got one staring you in the face and can just recast it? Please don’t think I’m bitter as I’m not; some of the more recent remakes have actually been superior to their predecessors. Moreover, the movie gave Eddie Murphy a chance to once again show his talent and play multiple roles in the same film. Much like he did in “Coming to America”, Murphy is a man of enormous talent and range. His recent Oscar nomination for “Dreamgirls” is proof of that (and probably why we’re getting this movie on HD DVD to begin with, but that’s another story). Back in the Summer of 1996, when this movie came out, it was a modest success in a movie season that had giants like “Twister”, “Mission: Impossible” and “Independence Day” to compete with. No pun intended, but competing with these films was no small feat.
Murphy plays, among others, Professor Sherman Klump. He’s a bit down on himself and finds that he’s often at the wrong end of some jokes. Add to that his attraction to college Professor Purdy (Jada Pinkett Smith) and he’s got some issues to deal with. While experimenting on some lab hamsters, he mistakenly discovers a magic potion that will allow him to shed those unwanted pounds and experience life as Buddy Love, the wilder and more confident side of his persona. Buddy does whatever he wants, eats whatever he wants and more importantly is the object of Prof. Purdy’s affection. However, Buddy is taking control over Sherman as the potion only works in short increments. Klump seeks the advice of his family (each member played by Murphy) to find an answer to his problem, but in the end it comes down to a moral decision that only Sherman can answer.
“The Nutty Professor” was a box office success at the time and once again put Murphy on the “A” list in Hollywood. He’d follow this up with the far less successful “Metro” but then get back on track again with family films like “Dr. Doolittle” and the “Shrek” movies. Clearly Murphy still has plenty to offer audiences more than 25 years after his film career started with “48 Hours” back in 1982. While I enjoyed some of his earlier work, there’s no doubt that “The Nutty Professor” is a great showcase for Murphy and all of his alter egos. It’s a bit predictable and sentimental, but also a great way to pass time on a rainy day. If you simply can’t get enough of the characters, they were back in 2000 with a sequel to this film, aptly-titled “The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps”. This HD DVD is featureless and while a more robust edition exists on standard DVD it won’t look or sound as good as it does here.
Video: How does it look?
This is a pretty big catalog title for Universal to release on the HD DVD format and with Universal being the only studio to solely support the format, you’d figure that what they put out better be good. This is the case with “The Nutty Professor” which sports a very impressive HD VC-1 transfer. The 1.85:1 image looks very good throughout and a bit more than I was expecting, actually. Colors are very sharp and the lack of any artifacting and edge enhancement only helped. For comparison’s sake, I broke out my old copy of this movie and did a few comparisons. Sure enough, the HD DVD version took the cake on all accounts with a more film-like image to boot. By some standards, this isn’t the best-looking HD DVD out there, but when you consider that the film is now 11 years old, I was pretty impressed. On a side note, it is interesting to see how far CGI has come in just a decade.
Audio: How does it sound?
Audio wise, this Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track exceeds the older Dolby Digital 5.1 track that came on the standard DVD. Granted, this movie isn’t totally dedicated to the audio experience, but I noticed a few instances in which I just kind of sat back and soaked it all in. Dialogue is very clean, without distortion and you can hear every fart and every snicker throughout the entire track. Surrounds kicked in from time to time to offer some added ambiance, but for the most part it’s a pretty standard mix. While sounding a bit better than the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, this Dolby Digital Plus isn’t the only reason to upgrade (that’d be the picture).
Supplements: What are the extras?
Again, you’d figure that Unviersal would bring this to the new format with all of the previous supplements intact but we get…nothing. Yes, that’s right â€“ nothing. Not even a trailer. This, like some other Universal titles, feels a bit rushed out the door. Boasting a superior picture and minimally better sound, “The Nutty Professor” is about as bare bones as it gets. The question is do you want to upgrade?