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Film / The Nutty Professor (1963)

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The Nutty Professor is a 1963 comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Jerry Lewis.

It's a modern twist on the classic Jekyll & Hyde story. Julius Kelp (Lewis) is an Absent-Minded Professor of chemistry at a small college who's timid, socially awkward, and klutzy. After being bullied and taunted by colleagues and students alike, Kelp invents a serum that turns him into an incredibly handsome, strong, confident, popular, and assertive man called Buddy Love. His new personality gives him the confidence to pursue one of his female students, Stella Purdy (Stella Stevens), but things go awry when "Buddy" begins to take over completely.

Remade in 1996 with Eddie Murphy in the lead role. An animated sequel was released in 2008, starring Drake Bell as the grandson of Julius Kelp, Harold Kelp.

The Nutty Professor provide examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Julius Kelp is an archetype, basically every nutty Jerry Lewis character rolled into one.
  • An Aesop: Be Yourself. Don't try to be somebody you're not to win others' affections.
  • Badass Bookworm: As Buddy Love, Kelp uses his knowledge of chemistry to mix up an Alaskan Polar Bear heater, which in this movie is so strong it caused the Bartender to freeze in one sip.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Kelp first takes the potion, he transforms into a monster, making it look like the movie will go through the traditional Jekyll and Hyde plot. Through his perspective, the people are staring at him with wide eyes. Later, it turns out they were staring at him not because he was ugly, but because he's now the handsome swinger Buddy Love.
  • The Casanova: Buddy Love.
  • Deconstruction: The film deconstructs the entire "Jerry Lewis as an extreme weirdo" casting and gives Kelp actual emotions.
  • Do Not Spoil This Ending: Played with. Trailers for the movie were fine with audiences spoiling the beginning and ending, but the middle of the movie, which revealed the transformation, was ordered to not be revealed.
  • Freak Lab Accident: At the beginning of the film, Kelp performs a demonstration in his chemistry class. When he pours a potion into a flask containing powder, the classroom explodes.
  • Gargle Blaster: Buddy has the bartender build an "Alaskan Polar Bear Heater". One sip, and the bartender short circuits while Buddy quaffs it with no incident.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: Abused gloriously at the beginning with some truly Scenery Porn of what appear to be experiments in progress, but are really just there to look cool over the opening credits as various colorful chemicals flow through tubes and bubble in flasks (before they explode). Kelp's laboratory throughout the film is chock full of more of the same, none of which is used (he drinks his concoction from a graduated cylinder). While transforming into Buddy Love, Kelp staggers over to the table containing his eye-catching but functionally useless equipment and smashes it to pieces.
  • Jerkass: Buddy Love is smooth and cool – and an obnoxious girl-chaser, a self-centered asshole, and a domineering bully. Definitely an intentional example, as it reinforces the Be Yourself message of the film.
  • Henpecked Husband: The first time Kelp's parents are shown, it is revealed they’re a henpecked guy and his mercilessly henpecking wife.
  • Meaningful Name: Stella Purdy, an attractive female student whose surname sounds like the Southern pronunciation of the word "pretty". It was suggested by Stella Stevens (from Mississippi) who objected to the original in the script.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Kelp's reaction when his parents have discovered, duplicated, patented and are selling his Buddy Love formula to the masses.
  • Nerdy Nasalness: Dr. Julius Kelp is a nerdy scientist with an abrasively nasal, Yiddish-inflected voice and a tendency to cause explosions.
  • Pink Is Erotic: Downplayed, Buddy Love's first outfit is a pink and blue suit and he attends a club to impress Stella, which has pink and purple decorations inside. Buddy is designed to be a suave womanizer who catches the attention of all the men and women in his vicinity.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When Buddy's voice reverts to Julius's while with Stella, what does he do? Up and bails.
  • Self-Deprecation: Kelp is a Parody of the archetypal Jerry Lewis goofy Manchild taken up to eleven – but with Hidden Depths.
  • Sexier Alter Ego: This is a main plot point. The titular professor invents a way to change himself from a nerdy-looking fellow into a smooth ladies man. It even concludes with the titular professor coming clean to a large group of people while he lets the formula wear off. There are no cuts, and both the professor and his alter ego were played by Jerry Lewis, so the transformation is almost entirely just Lewis changing his physical mannerisms and putting on a pair of glasses.
  • Take That!: Jerry Lewis' Buddy Love has been interpreted as a parody of Dean Martin, his old show-business partner, although Lewis repeatedly denied this.
  • Video Credits: Ending with Kelp crashing into the camera.