Movie Review: The Nutty Professor

 

I found this on the list and figured it would be a while before I could find a copy. The remake was available in most stores I visited but the original was not to be found; that is until this past weekend. One copy on tape for fifty cents, couldn’t pass it up considering the scarcity.

A totally inept chemistry professor goes from Jekyll to Hyde in order to woo a student.

This was my first Jerry Lewis film. All I knew about him was that he was a comedian, he has a telethon every Labor Day, and the idea that the French find him hilarious; whether the last part is true, I don’t know. Once he started talking, my heart sank as the voice grated on my ears.

I never liked obnoxious comedic voices or crossed eyes for the sake of getting a laugh. Seeing Jerry as the professor, I cringed. I started to question the inclusion of this film on the list, thinking they needed at least one of his films. I found out afterwards that this was one of three.

But then I found a shot where his back was toward the camera. It dawned on me that I looked like that (in the back). The diction, the mannerisms, his introverted nature, it was me. Remove the whine in the voice, correct the eyes, thicken the frames on the glasses, close the mouth, and it’s me. I was surprised because of this connection.

Do I have moments where I wish I wasn’t socially awkward or was suave and sophisticated? Sure, but I wouldn’t put Buddy Love as the paragon of “cool”. But in the world of opposites, he is in every way the Hyde whether we like it or not.

During the scene where they talk about the senior prom, I got confused. For most of the movie, I assumed that this was college solely because of the title “professor”. But when the term “senior prom” was mentioned, I became uncomfortable as it turned into high school. After some rationalizing and a few more minutes with the film, it turned out to be college. Do they still throw senior proms in college or was that something only done back then?

Aside from the acting, I liked the use of color, especially for the Purple Pit. Even though I saw this on tape, it still looked vibrant.

Did I like this film? Somewhat. Even with the strange connection, it wasn’t laugh-out-loud. I make it a point to watch the original version of a film first before the remake, just to understand what the remake might do better or worse. This is one of the few where I wonder if the remake improves upon the original. That remains to be seen.

6/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

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