It's love at first sight when Solomon (Ioan Gruffudd) the son of an Orthodox Jewish tailor meets Gaenor (Nia Roberts) a strong-willed young woman from a humble family of Welsh miners. Posing as a Christian and adopting a false name Solomon successfully woos his lady. But his deception can't last forever and when the truth comes out the hate-filled atmosphere in their hardscrabble town assures that there will be big trouble.
Gruffudd (TV's "Horatio Hornblower") immediately puts the drama on a sure footing with his natural leading-man presence and easy emotional accessibility. Roberts ("The Theory of Flight") is equally compelling as Gaenor whose conservative exterior hides the fiercely independent mind of a Jane Austen heroine. Most importantly the two leads throw sparks every time they're onscreen together. The strong supporting cast includes the compelling Maureen Lipman ("Educating Rita") as Solomon's mother who isn't above a bit of cruelty to protect her own.
Writer-director Paul Morrison a documentarian and practicing psychotherapist (!) invests his debut feature with passionate feeling and wonderful period detail. Clear motivations torturous conflicts and no small amount of suspense (thanks to the foreboding presence of Gaenor's hulking anti-Semite brother) give the piece engaging narrative urgency. Things lose steam a bit during the last act's over-the-top melodrama but it's a hard heart indeed that won't be rooting desperately for the star-crossed lovers to prevail.
Kindly chemistry whiz Sherman (Eddie Murphy) has found the love of his life in cutie colleague Denise (Janet Jackson) who appreciates the heart of gold beneath his extra-large exterior. But the hero's happiness is threatened when his irrepressible alter-ego Buddy Love (Murphy) reappears with a scheme to wreak havoc with Sherman's newly discovered youth potion.
"The Klumps" displays Murphy's remarkable talent for submerging himself in diverse characters even more prominently than the original did. He impressively expands upon the four Klump family members he plays with the aid of Rick Baker's Oscar-winning prosthetic makeup effects -- especially his hilarious turn as sex-crazed Granny Klump. Larry Miller is amusingly caustic as the dean of Sherman's college while pop diva Jackson deserves credit simply for keeping a straight face opposite Murphy's various incarnations.
Peter Segal ("Tommy Boy") hands in a polished if not particularly inspired piece of broad comedy that achieves its primary purpose -- staying out of Murphy's way as he works his special magic. The filmmakers pay little attention to the brainless shamelessly mechanical plotline devoting nearly all their energy to fart and sex gags that if anything aim lower than the original film's. We're talking about a flick draws one of its biggest laughs from a character getting sodomized by a giant hamster. Baby that's nasty!