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‘Dolemite Is My Name’ Review: Dir. Craig Brewer (2019)

Rudy Ray Moore is not a name muttered much in the mainstream these days despite his incredible contribution to all arts and entertainment. Some of his projects may not be considered high art, but the passion and drive of those projects attracted audiences. If you’re not familiar with his work then you are in for a real treat with Dolemite is My Name, especially as you can then explore his work afterwards. A cult icon in terms of comedy and blaxploitation films, you will have digested some of his work whether that be from the hilarious parody Black Dynamite, or from the ODB video for Baby, I Got Your Money. In terms of filmmaking, Moore could be said to have had aspirations above his station, like a latter day Tommy Wiseu. But there’s more to it than that, though The Room/The Disaster Artist and Dolemite/Dolemite is My Name, would make a stunning quadruple bill for fans of film and bad film alike.


Eddie Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, a down on his luck entertainer in his late 40s. He works at a record store that won’t even play his own records, and emcees at a club for other artists where he is chided for going over his allotted time. Upon hearing the rhyming and ridiculous comical stylings of local homeless men, Rudy perfects their material into a new character, Dolemite, a fast talking and highly controversial persona. He starts killing at clubs, and produces his own album which makes its way into the charts. People start to take notice, but just as his comedy career takes off, Moore then wants to bring his brand of humour into theatres. What follows is a troubled production, but one that unites those involved as Rudy aims for success.

Eddie Murphy captures the essence and intrigue of Rudy Ray Moore without cluttering his performance with exact imitations. His enthusiasm exudes in every single frame, whether giving a pep talk, losing faith, or convincing his cast and crew. Rudy’s personality is infectious and Murphy doesn’t waste a second of screen time getting us behind the protagonist. Murphy is supported by a brilliant cast, each giving their all. Words can’t describe how onform both Murphy and Wesley Snipes – as the film’s director and only real ‘thespian’ D’Urville Martin – are, and how the screen shakes as their charisma explodes. Seeing these two, both helmed by Craig Brewer bodes very, VERY well for Coming 2 America. Most importantly however is the emotional weight brought to the project. Like The Disaster Artist before it, Dolemite Is My Name, requires us to laugh at and with the protagonist as he embarks on a bizarre and impossible odyssey. The balance here is perfect, but it’s the scenes with heart where we truly fall in love. As Rudy’s protege and confidant, Lady Reed, Da’Vine Joy Randolph supports Murphy when he dives into the psyche of the character. It’s a brilliant platonic relationship of true love and heart that feels important and doesn’t feel the need to add a pointless romance.

Related: 6 of the Best Eddie Murphy movies

Dolemite Is My Name works because it makes us care and the focus is entirely on Rudy’s struggle. Every victory he gets, is a victory for us, and every victory he gets is a surprise for both him and us. The lack of ego we see, compared to the character of Dolemite, is so refreshing, yet we also wonder why Rudy believes he can become a comedian in his mid-40s. The lack of villain is also a lovely twist, as we see white business men explain the risks to Rudy and actually support him, and film companies admit they made mistakes in rejecting the film. Even Snipes’ uppity thesp (French pronunciations and all) has moments where he succumbs to the charm of the project. There are so many times where you expect a huge melodramatic explosion to add some drama, whether it be the writer Jerry Jones (Keegan-Michael Key) being asked to include an Exorcism, DP Nick Josef von Sternberg (Kodi Smit McPhee) being told there’s no electricity for the lights, or close friend Jimmy Lynch (Mike Epps) seeing his cousin’s car blown up. Everybody works together and overcome their issues. Despite the foul mouths and vulgarity, this is a wholesome film.

What we have is one of the feel good movies of the year. A delightful comedy that explores perseverance and entertainment. The third quarter is a bit too reliant on recreating scenes from Rudy Ray Moore’s camp classic for humour, but this will hopefully bring the original to a whole new audience. Luckily the script is also filled with excellent dialogue that makes knowing jibes at Bill Cosby, and looks at the industry from an outsider’s perspective.  Seeing Murphy back at the top of his game, as a character just as bold and entertaining as himself, in an enlightening and empowering biopic, makes this one of 2019’s best films. Dolemite captures the essence and passion of a very particular time and place, and bottles it for us all to enjoy.

Dolemite Is My Name is now streaming on Netflix.

Luke likes many things, films and penguins being among them. He's loved films since the age of 9, when STARGATE and BATMAN FOREVER changed the landscape of modern cinema as we know it. His love of film extends to all aspects of his life, with trips abroad being planned around film locations and only buying products featured in Will Smith movies. His favourite films include SEVEN SAMURAI, PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, IN BRUGES, LONE STAR, GODZILLA, and a thousand others.


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