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The Nutty Professor - Ranking the Klump Family 

Eddie Murphy classically plays five separate Klump family members, but which Klump is the champ? 

By Tara Bennett
Eddie Murphy The Nutty Professor

Want to feel old, instantly? Let it sink in that Eddie Murphy's The Nutty Professor remake turned 27 last June. A massive summer hit to the tune of $274 million box office, it's a remake of the Jerry Lewis comedy of the same name from 1963 (and a not-so-subtle riff on Robert Louis Stevenson's story, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). Murphy's take on the fantasy story is a contemporary remix that centers on Professor Sherman Klump. The shy, obese, sweetheart of a guy is unlucky in love, so he invents a serum in his science lab that allows him to transform into the brash, muscled-up jerk, Buddy Love. 

Going back to his days on Saturday Night Live, Murphy was always all-in with donning intricate makeup effects and costumes to turn himself into known pop culture figures like Little Richard and Gumby, as well as brand-new characters like Mr. White or Velvet Jones. When Murphy left SNL for a film career, the comedian carried that sense of play into his films. Beginning with Coming to America (1988), it became a Murphy signature move to subsume himself into multiple characters with the help of major makeup effects. 

RELATED: Eddie Murphy would 'absolutely be open' to reprising Donkey in 'Shrek' sequel or a spinoff project

The Nutty Professor represented Murphy's most ambitious effort in the multi-character oeuvre, as he took on playing seven different characters: Sherman, Buddy, and then almost the entire Klump family unit of Cletus, Anna, Ida Mae Jenson, and Ernie Klump Sr. (He also played Richard Simmons-like fitness guru, Lance Perkins.) But what really pushed the comedian into new ground with this movie is that he played five of the Klump family members in the same scene. On paper, that was a VFX and editing nightmare waiting to happen. But Murphy enlisted the experience of makeup legend Rick Baker to bring all of the characters to life, practically. In turn, The Nutty Professor won the Academy Award for Best Makeup.

With our annual rewatch of this classic complete (it's streaming now on Peacock alongside Nutty Professor II: The Klumps), SYFY WIRE decided to rank the Klumps as standalone characters — as Murphy intended. 

Ranking Eddie Murphy's Klumps from The Nutty Professor 

6. Buddy Love

Eddie Murphy as Buddy Love in The Nutty Professor (1996)

Technically a controversial inclusion because Buddy Love is not really a Klump. However, he's so closely tied to Sherman Klump, one could argue that he is Sherman, just gone bad. As such, Love is part of the list. And he's the villain we easily hate. Donning his mean persona and tight lyrca, Murphy makes Love the most toxic of characters. Sure, he looks great and has some charm, but he's selfish and brutal to Sherman. We applaud Murphy for 100% selling this particular take on this "hot guy is the worst" cliche. 

5. Ernie Klump Sr. 

Eddie Murphy as Ernie Klump Sr. in The Nutty Professor (1996)

The brother of Sherman, Ernie Sr. embraces his "sweats-all-the-time" vibe, being "that guy" who has a lot to say, but not a lot to do. At the family dinner table, he's got plenty of opinions that no one really wants to hear. Not much of a scene-stealer, but Ernie Sr. gets points for giving accurate family seat filler vibes. 

4. Cletus Klump

Eddie Murphy as Cletus Klump in The Nutty Professor (1996)

The loud and proud patriarch of the Klumps, Cletus is generally one to give original sermons about whatever topic tickles his fancy. At this particular dinner, it's all about his appreciation for curvy women, especially Oprah Winfrey. He absolutely lands the "my word is the last word" aura that some dads love to serve up at family dinners. He's got a hearty appetite too.

RELATED: Scream 5 writer James Vanderbilt experimenting with Nutty Professor reboot

 3. Professor Sherman Klump

Eddie Murphy The Nutty Professor

Sherman Klump is the star of The Nutty Professor but he also spends a lot of the film as the proverbial wall flower who can't overcome his own crippling self-esteem and body image issues to see his true gifts. So, we can't give him top position. However, we can applaud Murphy for making Sherman such a sympathetic sweetie and someone to genuinely root for as Buddy Love tries to stomp him out of existence. 

2. Anna Pearl Klump

Eddie Murphy as Anna Pearl Klump and Jamal Mixon as Ernie Klump Jr. in The Nutty Professor (1996)

As the family matriarch, Anna Pearl is the mom we all know. She's always making more food than anyone can even imagine eating and is looking out for everyone before herself. She's also the happiest personality at the table, encouraging her kids like the cheerleader she is. Murphy nails this enabling mom whose children can do no wrong. And she's the origin of the "Hercules, Hercules!" hype moment that has since become a comedy classic still quoted by many to this day. (We also gotta give Ernie Klump Jr. (Jamal Mixon) an honorable mention here for being solid comedic support.)

1. Ida Mae Jenson

Eddie Murphy as Ida Mae Jenson in The Nutty Professor (1996)

The undisputed Klump, Ida Mae Jenson is every grandma who has made it to the age where she has no filter, and that suits her just fine. Don't let her granny glasses and shoulder cardigan lull you into thinking she's all sweetness and maternal joy. No, Ida Mae will tell you exactly what she thinks about talk show hosts, and who gets her dinner bell ringing to boot. She's also ready to go 10-rounds with her own family. When she warns Cletus — "You walk over... but you're limping back" — that's a verbal TKO! 

Watch The Nutty Professor and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps now on Peacock.