The Nutty Professor - American comedy film

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The 1963 American comedy The Nutty Professor, with Jerry Lewis as the title character, was produced, co-written, and directed by Bill Richmond. Walter Scharf provided the film's musical score.

Sherman Klump, an obese professor at Wellman College who is friendly but has little self-esteem and is extremely bashful, is introduced in the first scene of the film by Eddie Murphy. He falls in love with Carla Purty (Jada Pinkett), a new lecturer at the same college who is a fan and a chemistry graduate, despite lecturing at the institution and working as a lab technician. The two enjoy memorable moments together, but Sherman's obesity and constant ridicule in school further exacerbate his self-esteem. He finally decides to do something to remedy the situation, in the wake of his thoughts concocts a serum solution meant to counter obesity, and to his surprise, it works. He instantaneously sheds off 250 pounds (Shadyac, 1996).

The weight loss through a positive gain for Sherman causes him to develop an alter ego; Buddy Love. Though Buddy love is more popular than Sherman due to his antics and love for random expressions, he is also an assertive and a constant braggart. He associates himself with three women which leads to a break up with Carla, ones in a concert his serum effects wear off and he retransforms back from Buddy Love to Sherman almost spontaneously. The audience is left in utter shock. And in his confession, Sherman explains that he became Buddy because he didn't appreciate himself and couldn't handle the unending ridicule from his peers. He is finally reinstated back to the school teaching faculty due to his resilience and brilliance in research.

Relation between the movie and science/biology

The movie as mentioned in the summary is a movie that incorporates the aspects of

Science and biology into its structure. The most prominent element is how the producers can integrate the scientific aspects of chemistry and genetics into the general plot of the movie. As structured, Mr. Sherman uses a specific concocted serum to modify his genetics to yield a slimmer and well-firmed physic opposed to his prominent stature occasioned by obesity. The movie demonstrates the connection between chemistry (science) and its effects on the human body (biology).

The movie relates to science and biology by demonstrating how one field (science) can cause changes on the other (biology), it is like a theatrical animation of the prevalent interactive relationship between science and biology in their real sense. Through science, Mr. Sherman transforms his body, which is a biological aspect.

The movie also brings in another aspect predominant in the scientific field; dual personality. Matters psychological are within both science as the field that studies those attributes of the human mind and biology as the substratum or object of study upon which the entire research is proffered on (Shadyac et al., 1996).

However, in as much as the movie provides a playing field where science and biology can interact positively, it also demonstrates the darker area of that relationship that could entail side effects. By Mr. Sherman using the concocted serum, he develops an unexpected alter ego. The movie therefore in some sense depicts the; ‘love and hate relationship' between the two (Science and biology).

The accuracy of the scientific aspects of the movie

The movie applies several aspects of science efficiently to bring out general enthusiasm. However, their accuracy in some scenario within the cinema is accurately expressed, but in others, they are not. For this question, the answer is both yes and no. In the matter of ingesting serum, the accuracy is diminished, yes, there has to be a way to introduce the serum into the body, in most cases serums intended to cause genetic or profound physical changes are introduced by direct administering into the blood system, through injections. However the movie uses ingestion as a mode of administering. But as a matter of accuracy, there is an effort to apply the concoction though not in the conventional manner (Shadyac et al., 1996).

Another movie also fails to successfully explain how the ingestion of a specific serum, can in effect cause the body to develop rapidly if not such instantaneous changes such as weight loss without a window period. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the mode of administering the serum is by ingestion, anything ingested has to undergo the due biological process of digestion, which takes time. Therefore for the effects of the serum to be spontaneous as depicted in the movie then the administering procedure cannot be via ingestion but direct injection into the blood system. Hence the film fails to indicate how that serum can effect such changes. Moreover, it is quite baffling how a concoction can cause such proportional body changes, the question at hand is how that is even scientifically or biologically possible. One may wonder how accurate and customized can that serum be to yield such perfect outcomes of a slim, firm and well-toned handsome man as it does. Such a possibility is far removed from any accurate scientific explanation.

Parts of the movie that is by science/biology factual

As mentioned previously, there exists a thin line between what has been successfully depicted as the causalities to the spontaneous physical changes in the person of Mr. Sherman. However, it is factual that for the body to endear such tremendous changes, there has to be a chemical catalyst or enzyme promoter. Even though the movie is all about theatrics, it still applies scientific logic by having the ingestion of the serum as the principal cause as to why and how the body changes occur. In essence, the serum can in scientific or biological terms be referred to as the catalyst or solution that leads to such a reality, therefore concerning scientific logic, that very aspect is factual.

Another aspect that is scientific factual is the effects of the serum introduced into Mr. Sherman. As depicted in the movie, the solution leads to the emergence of the alter ego; Buddy Love. Scientifically, alter egos or personalities are provoke to reality via some catalyst or stimuli. In this case, the stimulus is the serum. After the ingestion of it, Mr. Sherman transforms immediately into Mr. Buddy Love, and in the event of the serum dissipation in the body system, the changes revert. That phenomenon, though not valid is scientifically logical.

Another, aspect of the serum that is a biological consequence is the hormonal change in the person of Buddy Love. The alter ego is awash with heightened levels of testosterone, which is the very explanation for his erratic behavior that is unlike his former; Mr. Sherman. He is depicted as one who is destructive, full of energy, sings a lot, spends his time wooing the women in several clubs and is full of character and vigor that comes with such increased levels of testosterone.

Parts of the science/biology aspects of the movie that are fictional

The most obviously fictional parts of the film are the transformation of Mr. Sherman into Buddy love instantaneously. As mentioned previously, even if one is to ingest or have any chemical compound injected into their systems, none can occasion such random and spontaneous changes as the on evidenced in the movie.

The movie illustrates that if Mr. Sherman ingested the serum initially, he lost approximately 300 pounds instantaneously, then more absurd is hoe he recovers the same pounds after the dissipation of the serum. More surprising is that the same process repeats itself every time Mr. Sherman ingests the compound and precipitates the exact loss of 300 pounds, which can only be fictional.

Moreover as mentioned, it's somewhat fictional that the compound only affects the body physic of Mr. Sherman and conjure the alter ego. How convenient would the mixture have to be concocted to, to just have such effects and not a single one on the memory or any other faculties of the subject?

Another fictional aspect of the movie is the depiction of the dual confrontation between the two personalities present in the person of Mr. Sherman (his original self and Buddy Love). As presented towards the end of the movie, the two identities are illustrated to be in real physical conflict. Contrary to the normal, it is expected, that if there is to be such an inter-personality conflict, then it can only suffice as a mental state of disorientation.

The science concepts used in the movie

The movie incorporates several scientific concepts such as medical concepts. Medicines, how they are ingested, and their consequent effects are all within the realm of science and biology. The ingestion of the chemical compounds to effect bodily changes by Mr. Sherman and its resulting impact is synonymous with concepts of science.

Another scientific concept is the genetic and physical changes precipitated by the ingestion of the chemical compound. Most evidently is the transformation of Mr. Sherman into Buddy Love; a new slim, well-toned and handsome man. Such changes are indicative of matters genetics. Genetics is a science that studies the human hereditary aspects that constitute who or how they develop in their later lives.

Human metabolism is another scientific concept in play within the movie. The ingestion of the compound by Mr. Sherman precipitates (fictionally) immediate changes in him. The indirect theory visited here is the power and place of the human metabolism, which also makes the alter ego (Buddy Love) imbued with vigor and enthusiasm. However had the producers wish to avoid the insinuation of the metabolic concept, then they would have modified the plot of the movie to accommodate other serum administering methods such as injections.

Psychology is also another science concept in play within the movie, the placement of the two personalities is suggestive of the human study that deals with psychology. Psychology deals with matters of the mind and the body, the depiction of how the serum interferes with the mind (alter ego) and the body (losing 300 pounds). That interconnectivity is within the realm of science, and this movie provides a perfect playground for those concepts to interact, even though they do so on a theatrical platform.

What I have learnt from the movie

This movie is quite informative, several scientific themes come into play within its plot, and they provoke other related dialogues that are informative too. I have learned of matters psychology. Issues of one personality and the existence of dual characters (alter egos). It is also educational how the alter ego can significantly affect the behavior of an individual and how the ego can be conjured by a specific chemical stimulant (serum).

Another thing that I learned from the movie is the use of scientific technology or logic in the movie industry. This film has expertly (although in some aspects fictional) applied scientific concepts as mentioned previously to yield a perfectly choreographed storyline. Movies are based on life experiences with a little fiction to make the unfathomable real, that delicate combination and interaction of the two are significantly incorporated in this film. Science is also depicted to be an attribute in play in every day's life activities and experiences, the movie demonstrates how contextual it is in daily living.

In this movie I have also learned the contribution of science in personal life, this is distinguished from the previous point because this one illustrates how scientific knowledge can be deployed in changing people's lives, solving medical issues or making people's lives better in therapeutic ways. The ingestion of the chemical compound Transforms Mr. Sherman for an obese professor into a slim, handsome and well-toned person. That transformation is a life changer in the life of the professor and indicated how science used positively could transform the lives of people. Making them better than they are, changing of compensating their weaknesses or shortcoming.

How the science/biology presentation is viewed by the public.

The movie demonstrates the place of science in people's lives. It makes the viewer believe more that science can be an intervention into social problems of daily living. That used with expertise, it can effect changes in people's lives, solving their common issues.

The movie also puts the public into an unrealistic bubble, that some fantasies or wishes can be achieved in life through science. Just as Mr. Sherman transforms into Buddy Love and fulfills his fantasies, so do the people perceive that living in that unrealistic bubble is possible.

With the failures of the scientific transformations of Mr. Sherman, there is the inherent feeling that even though science can offer reprieve on people's daily problems, it still cannot solve the problems permanently. The movie presents the impression that one has to gamble with science if they are to get the best results, to which the consequences are also dire (alter ego). The viewers would end up feeling that for one to achieve success in thorough science, they have to accept the reality of a possible failure in the future.

It also finally elicits within the viewer the sentiments, that other than base ones success on science or that one may hope on using it to better themselves and compensate for their inadequacies. It is far much better to accept and love oneself for who they indeed are. Other modern methods may appear to solve the issue but temporarily leaving one either eventually embarrassed, or even lose plenty of live worth relationships due to low self-esteem.


Shadyac, T., & Murphy, E. (1996). The Nutty Professor. Universal.

April 06, 2023

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