• Publication date: March 1, 2010

Eddie Murphy Showcases His Talents Wins Audiences Over Again

Performer Eddie Murphy rose quickly to stardom in the early 1980s with his brash street-edged comedy and irresistibly cheerful demeanor. After just a few years on the cast of �Saturday Night Live� (1980-84). Murphy hit big in his first on-screen role alongside Nick Nolte in �48 HRS� (1982).

Performer Eddie Murphy rose quickly to stardom in the early 1980s with his brash street-edged comedy and irresistibly cheerful demeanor. After just a few years on the cast of �Saturday Night Live� (1980-84). Murphy hit big in his first on-screen role alongside Nick Nolte in �48 HRS� (1982). By 1985, Murphy could do no wrong, topping the box office with �Beverly Hills Cop� (1984) and reaching #2 on the Billboard charts with his R&B single �Party All the Time.�

As the 80s turned into the 90s, the comedian�s success tempered a bit, but he was still drawing solid returns with films such as �Another 48 Hours� (1990), �Boomerang� (1992), and �The Distinguished Gentleman� (1992). However, a disappointing showing for 1994�s third installment of the �Beverly Hills Cop� (1994) franchise seemed to indicate that his drawing power was on the wane.

Then, in 1996, Murphy was called on by director Tom Shadyac (�Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,� �Liar Liar,� �Patch Adams�) to revive the role of Sherman Klump in a remake of the 1963 Jerry Lewis picture, �The Nutty Professor.�

Sherman Klump is a grossly obese college professor doing genetic research on hamsters at the school lab. Sherman discovers that a formula he has created brings about weight loss in the hamsters. But, citing the dangers of moving the testing along too quickly, holds off on drawing any conclusions about the effects of the serum. After class, Sherman meets a beautiful graduate student, Carla Purty (Jada Pinkett), who is teaching across the hall. Carla says she admires Sherman�s work, and he later gets up the courage to ask her out on a date.

However, the date goes south when the comedian they go to watch, Reggie Warrington (a young Dave Chappelle) humiliates Sherman from the stage with jokes about his weight. Depressed, Professor Klump returns home and binges on junk food. When he wakes up, he decides to take the serum. Incredibly, Sherman sheds 250 pounds on the spot. But the level of testosterone in the liquid causes him to take on a different, more aggressive personality.

Sherman returns to campus with his new appearance and personality, and starts to flirt with Carla, telling her that his name is Buddy Love. He eventually convinces her to go on a date with him. But while the date is going well, the serum begins to wear off and Buddy starts changing back into Sherman. He makes up an excuse to leave before Carla realizes what�s happening. The serum�s effects initially encourage Sherman, but Buddy�s strong personality eventually starts to become problematic, ultimately becoming so dominant that the real Sherman underneath may be powerless to stop it.

�The Nutty Professor� was a huge hit in theaters, taking in $128 million. Similar to what he did in 1988�s �Coming to America,� Murphy plays a one-man band, taking on seven different characters, often together in the same scene. The film unsurprisingly hauled in an Oscar for its makeup work, and Murphy himself was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Performance.

While the film does contain some adult humor, it nevertheless represents a notable change to a more family-friendly approach for Murphy, whose previous films were almost entirely R rated. In the years following, Murphy would take on more roles aimed at a broader range of audiences (�Dr. Dolittle,� �Daddy Day Care�), including voice acting for several animated features (�Shrek,� �Mulan�).

�The Nutty Professor� is rated PG-13 for crude humor and sexual references. The film has a runtime of 95 minutes.