Murphy portrays a university professor, Sherman Klump, a kind-hearted man who is morbidly obese. A research scientist, academic, and lecturer, Klump develops a miraculous, but experimental, weight-loss pharmaceutical, and hoping to win the affection of the girl of his dreams, tests it upon himself. Like the original film's Julius Kelp, Klump's vigorous, charismatic, but evil alter ego takes the name "Buddy Love". Murphy plays a total of seven characters in the film, including Sherman, most of Sherman's family (except for his nephew, Ernie Klump Jr. played by child actor Jamal Mixon), and an over-the-top parody of Richard Simmons.
The film received positive reviews, with critics particularly praising the makeup and Murphy's performance. The film's success spawned a sequel, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, which was released in 2000. The film was re-released on Blu-ray combo pack on March 6, 2012, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Universal Studios.
At Wellman College, thousands of hamsters overrun the campus after being accidentally released by Sherman Klump, a massively obese, yet loving and kind-hearted professor. Meanwhile, Sherman has created an experimental formula that reconstructs the DNA of an obese person in a way that allows them to lose weight more easily.
After his lecture, Sherman meets and instantly falls in love with Carla Purty, a chemistry graduate who is a big fan of his work. After dinner with his obese, impolite family, Sherman asks Carla out on a date, which she accepts, much to Sherman's surprise due to his parents' embarrassing behavior. The date begins well with Carla showing admiration for Sherman's work, but the club's obnoxious guest comedian, Reggie Warrington, publicly mocks him about his weight. Sherman becomes depressed and has a nightmare in which he becomes a rampaging giant and wrecks the city with a single fart that is ignited to cause an explosion. He tests his serum on himself and loses 300 pounds within seconds. Overwhelmed by his immediate weight loss, he goes out and buys copious amounts of normal-sized clothing to celebrate, and a $47,000 Dodge Viper RT/10 sports car on his faculty expense account.
To conceal his true identity, Sherman adopts a false identity, "Buddy Love", and invites Carla out on a date at the same club again (while the serum begins to wear off). Reggie is present again, and Buddy takes revenge and heckles him mercilessly. Sherman's "Buddy" persona starts to develop an independent personality due to the heightened testosterone levels of the transformation, causing him to gradually change from his regular good-natured self to being perverted and super-confident. Klump's assistant Jason witnesses Buddy fleeing the scene after he is identified as the person who left Klump's credit card at the bar. Jason follows Buddy and witnesses his transformation back into Sherman Klump.
The next morning, Dean Richmond has set up a meeting with wealthy businessman Harlan Hartley at The Ritz to have Sherman explain the serum in the hopes of gaining Hartley's $10,000,000 donation to the science department. However, Sherman arrives at The Ritz as Buddy Love with Carla. When Richmond spots him, Carla asks Buddy if he will take Sherman's place; he does, and he takes all the credit of his work to Hartley. Hartley and Richmond are very impressed, and the dean invites him to the Alumni Ball the next night. Meanwhile, Buddy picks up three beautiful women who seem to idolize him - much to Carla's anger, who dumps him and walks out. He then invites the three women and a bunch of other people back to his place for the night to throw a party and have sex with the three women.
After the fall out with Carla, Richmond not only fires Sherman, but gleefully tells him that Buddy will be taking his place at the Alumni Ball. Sherman sees a taunting videotape from his alter ego and decides he has had enough of Buddy, taking the decision of destroying all of the serum samples, which he does with Jason's help. Sherman plans to set things right with Carla and get the grant from Hartley. Unfortunately, Buddy knew that this would happen and prepared himself by hiding a sample of the serum in one of Sherman's diet shake cans, which Sherman drinks, causing him to transform into Buddy again. Jason tries to stop him from going to the ball, but Buddy knocks him out with a single blow to the face and departs.
At the ball, Buddy demonstrates the effects of the serum to the audience, but Jason arrives in time, as he has found out that Buddy's testosterone levels are at a lethally high 60,000%. Buddy plans to drink a large sum of the potion to get rid of Sherman for good; Jason knows that if he drinks it, it will kill Sherman and possibly Buddy. The two of them get into a brief fistfight, but Sherman begins to fight Buddy from within. Sherman eventually transforms into his regular self and admits his misdeeds to the shocked audience, including his parents; he says that Buddy was who he thought he and everybody else wanted him to be, and that he should accept himself for who he is. As he leaves, Carla stops him and asks why he lied; he says he did not believe that she would accept him. While they don't initiate a romantic relationship, Sherman and Carla remain friends and share a dance together. Richmond rehires Sherman and Hartley gives the donation to Sherman because he is "a brilliant scientist and a gentleman."Eddie Murphy as Professor Sherman Klump / Buddy Love
Murphy also plays Papa Cletus Klump (Sherman's father), Mama Anna Klump (Sherman's mother), Granny Ida Jenson (Sherman's Grandma, Anna's Mama), Ernie Klump, Sr. (Sherman's brother) and Lance Perkins, a parody of Richard Simmons
Jada Pinkett as Carla Purty
James Coburn as Harlan Hartley
Larry Miller as Dean Richmond
Dave Chappelle as Reggie Warrington
Chappelle reprised his role on Chris Rock's 1997 album Roll with the New.
John Ales as Jason
Jamal Mixon as Ernie Klump, Jr.
Montell Jordan as himself
The Nutty Professor was the first Tom Shadyac film to feature outtakes over the closing credits. The film also has a series of scenes with Murphy and comedian Dave Chappelle who plays insult comic, Reggie Warrington. Much of their dialogue was improvised. Murphy was one of Chappelle's biggest comedic influences. Reggie Warrington is named after Reginald and Warrington Hudlin, brothers, and directors of one of Murphy's previous films, Boomerang.
While the film was made with the help of Jerry Lewis (he was an executive producer for both this film and the 2000 sequel The Klumps), he later recanted his position in an interview in the January 30/February 6, 2009 edition of Entertainment Weekly magazine. He was quoted as saying, "I have such respect for Eddie, but I should not have done it. What I did was perfect the first time around and all you're going to do is diminish that perfection by letting someone else do it."
The Nutty Professor has received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 64% based on reviews from 55 critics. Metacritic gave the film a score of 62 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 stars out of 4, calling it "a movie that's like a thumb to the nose for everyone who said [Murphy had] lost it. He's very good. And the movie succeeds in two different ways: it's sweet and good-hearted, and then again it's raucous slapstick and bathroom humor. I liked both parts." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+, writing "You can feel Murphy rediscovering his joy as a performer. He rediscovers it, too, as Sherman Klump, a fellow who, much like Murphy, is on the bottom rung, desperate to reinvent himself, and — at long last — does."
The Nutty Professor was a box office success, opening with $25,411,725 and reaching a domestic sum of $128,814,019, and $145,147,000 overseas, for a total of $273,961,019 worldwide.69th Academy Awards
Best Makeup (Won)
54th Golden Globe Awards
Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy - Eddie Murphy (Nominated)