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Eddie Murphy is an interesting comedian. When he first began he was edgy and hilarious. But as his career progressed he got more “family-friendly” and as a result got less funny. That’s not to say that he wasn’t funny at all, because he still was for the most part. However, Murphy just started doing movies that were either targeted towards kids or required him to play many characters in the same movie using Hollywood makeup. He set the bar for that back in 1996 with The Nutty Professor. Since then, Murphy’s comedies have been hit or miss. Now four of these comedies from the last decade are together on one set.
In The Nutty Professor, Sherman Klump (Eddie Murphy) is an incredibly fat and good-hearted man. He is a college professor on the verge of a breakthrough in DNA restructuring when he meets an admirer of his, named Carla (Jada Pinkett Smith), who is a teacher new to Klump’s college. He is enamored of her, but is frustrated by his tremendous bulk. He then decides to test a formula on which he’s been working on himself. He is then transformed into the lecherous swinger Buddy Love, and romantic complications ensue.
In The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Professor Sherman Klump is getting married. And the Klump family could not be more delighted for him. But Buddy Love, his Mr. Hyde alter-ego from the first film, is back and trying to make it on his own. Buddy keeps resurfacing in untimely outbursts, and threatening the portly professor’s marriage plans to colleague Denise Gaines (Janet Jackson). Utilizing Denise’s cutting-edge DNA research, Sherman decides to rid himself of his monstrous nemesis -and his disruptive outbursts-once and for all by extracting Buddy’s DNA from his system. But Buddy bursts full-bodied into Sherman’s world and lays claim to the professor’s astounding invention – a revolutionary youth serum. Desperate to keep it from Buddy, Sherman hides the serum in the Klump family home, thinking it will be safe. Buddy correctly divines where Sherman has placed the serum, but to get it, he has to deal with the entire Klump family first.
In Life, set in the mid-1990s, two inmates bury the burned bodies of two lifers at Mississippi’s infamous Parchman Farm; a third old-timer relates their story. They’d served 65 years for a murder they didn’t commit, framed by a local sheriff while buying moonshine whiskey for a Manhattan club owner to whom they owed money. In flashbacks we see this odd couple thrown together. Ray (Murphy) is a fast-talking con man, and Claude (Martin Lawrence) is a serious man about to start work as a bank teller. Eventually we see why they have this love-hate relationship as Claude and Ray spend 65 years bickering and looking for a way to escape.
In Bowfinger, Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) is a run-down actor-producer-director, is reading a script which a friend has written. Completely convinced of its quality, he decides to take a last shot at fame and fortune. But the script is not that easy to sell, and a famous producer promises him to do it, but there is one condition: Kit Ramsey (Murphy), Hollywood’s number one star, has to be in it. So, Bobby tries his luck with Kit, who says no, and then decides to shoot the film himself. Together with the cheapest team available in Southern California, an aspiring beauty from Ohio, a diva who is just a little over the hill, a key-holding gofer from a major studio and a goon hired away from burger-flipping, Bobby sets out to shoot the science-fiction-film starring Kit Ramsey, who does not even know he’s being filmed.
All of these films feature Eddie Murphy playing multiple characters. Some of the characters he plays are absurd and some are really funny. In The Nutty Professor, it’s fresh and interesting. But by the time the second Nutty Professor comes along, it just seems like overkill. Meanwhile, in both Life and Bowfinger, Murphy plays less characters in favor of establishing comedic chemistry with two other “hit-or-miss” comedians, Martin Lawrence and Steve Martin respectively.
The best way to describe this set is “hit-or-miss”. Eddie Murphy’s early work is definitely his best work. He was at his funniest before he decided to put on makeup and disguise himself as different people. That was way before any of these films were released. However, this is still a good sampling of what Eddie Murphy has become as a comedian and the types of movies he does now, and at times all of these films are very funny. They are just not consistently funny enough to recommend a purchase of this set for anyone, except hardcore Eddie Murphy fans.
The video for all four films is given in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. Nothing special, but on par with other new release DVDs. No majors problems at all here.
The audio for all four films included is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English SDH as well. No problems here either as the music and dialogue come out loud and clear.
There are no extras for any of these films in this box set.
If you don’t care about having any extras for these films, and you are a Eddie Murphy fan who doesn’t already own these films, you may want to consider buying this set. This is not the greatest comedies that Murphy has been in, but they are fairly good. So if you haven’t seen them, give them a chance.
Universal Studios presents Eddie Murphy Comedy Collection. Directed by Tim Hill. Written by Steven Martin, Jerry Lewis, Steven Oedrekerk, Bill Richmond. Starring Eddie Murphy, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Martin Lawrence, Steve Martin, and Christine Baranski. Running time: 407 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released on DVD: May 27, 2008.Available at Amazon.com