“Dolemite Is My Name” stars Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Titus Burgess, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Wesley Snipes. Released on October 4, 2019, the film is about an artist who creates his own fictional character.
The film is directed by Craig Brewer, who also directed “The Poor & Hungry”, “Hustle & Flow”, “Black Snake Moan”, and the 2011 remake of “Footloose”. The early 1970s saw the rise of a well-known subgenre of the exploitation film genre known as Blaxploitation. For those who need a refresher, blaxploitation is the type of film in which they showcase black characters and communities as the main characters and topics. While it has received plenty of backlash for its stereotypical depiction of black characters, the blaxploitation genre was able to gain some popularity from moviegoers and filmmakers thanks to the likes of “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” and “Shaft” and made a big influence on American cinema. During that time, a musician/comedian named Rudy Ray Moore created his own stage persona known as “Dolemite” for his stand-up routine and, later on, a series of blaxploitation films. I had little to no experience with these types of films because I haven’t watched any of them yet. Does the 2019 version of “Shaft” count? However, that didn’t stop me from seeing this latest biographical film from Netflix. The film was released in theaters a few weeks ago and it has so far received plenty of praise from critics, with some of them highlighting Eddie Murphy’s performance as Rudy Ray Moore, which is, in fact, my personal reason why I wanted to check this film out. I enjoyed the heck out of Eddie Murphy as I was growing up, whether his films are good or not, so it’s actually quite nice for me to see him back on the screen after being gone for about three years. Now that it’s made its way to Netflix, let’s see if it’s really as successful as Moore’s stage persona.
The story chronicles the events surrounding Rudy Ray Moore (Murphy), ranging from his career as an artist to his attempt at bringing his Dolemite character to the big screen. It’s pretty much like “The Disaster Artist”, but with a blaxploitation flavor. What made this film interesting to me was not just Moore and the creation of Dolemite, but also the creation of the film based on the character. Similar to “The Disaster Artist”, “Dolemite” explores the process of the characters making the film as well as the obstacles that they will have to overcome during that process. Some of them can lead to some outrageous moments, and some of them can lead to some tragic moments. “Dolemite Is My Name” is something that mostly explores the former, and it’s something that I actually wouldn’t mind experiencing over and over again. Even though the film didn’t do anything unique to its formula or expand its conflicts a bit more, it paid respect to the late comedian and his comedic style that made an influence on rap music by providing an upbeat and comical biopic that’s consistently funny and heartwarming. One of the best parts of the film has to be Eddie Murphy’s performance as Rudy Ray Moore. All I can say is that it’s great to see him do his thing again. Not only was he hilarious to watch, but he also nailed the persona of Moore when it comes to the delivery of his lines and the mannerisms. The other actors were great in their roles as well, especially Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Lady Reed and Wesley Snipes as D’Urville Martin, the director/co-actor of the Dolemite film. Another thing that I liked about the film was the tone. Director Craig Brewer wasn’t afraid to have fun with the ridiculous concept that he’s given. He envisioned it as a raunchy, happy-go-lucky quest for success that’s more rewarding than offensively crude. It’s one of those types of biopics that’s more on telling true stories in a amusing and thoughtful way rather than telling them in a tragic way. So if you’re someone who’s into biopics that make you happy, “Dolemite” has got you covered. I also have to point out that the settings and the costumes were well-crafted and stylish.
Overall, “Dolemite Is My Name” is a well-acted and consistently hilarious comedy that pays respect to Rudy Ray Moore and his accomplishments. It’s far from dynamite in terms of its formula, but the cast (particularly Eddie Murphy), Brewer’s direction, and its humor were enough to make the film as delightful and raw as Moore’s raunchy character himself. It’s no “Disaster Artist”, but I had fun watching it, regardless. I would highly recommend it to those who love Eddie Murphy and are familiar with the late artist/comedian.