“I wanna let you know that Dolemite is my name, and fuckin’ up motherfuckers is my game.” – Rudy Ray Moore aka Dolemite
After what feels like a lifetime of box office bombs not even Adam Sandler can comprehend, it seems as if the long-awaited return to form for Eddie Murphy is finally upon us. With the promise of a new stand-up special on the horizon along with sequels to some of his most successful films, all eyes are on the legend that made Raw and Delirious the standard to which all comedians strive for. Until then, Dolemite is My Name will have to suffice and not only does it hold us over it does so with absolute style and conviction from everyone in front of and behind the camera. This is the Eddie Murphy we’ve been searching for and what a triumphant return it is.
Having been a passion project of Murphy’s for over fifteen years, Dolemite Is My Name is a biopic about an underground comedian that rose to cult status during the 70’s named Rudy Ray Moore. Having failed at being a famous musician and dancer he eventually found his calling as a comedian performing under the alter ego Dolemite. As Dolemite he became a salacious, kung-fu fighting badass who rhymed his way to legend status in the world of stand-up comedy. He would use this new found fame to help fund and produce his own Blaxploitation films becoming something of a phenom in the industry. Those who grew up with him still recall his name with fond memories and kind words having influenced so many future comedians, including the man himself Eddie Murphy and his dearly departed brother, Charlie.
Passion project doesn’t always mean quality (Travolta, Battlefield Earth… need I say more?) but in this case Murphy, under the pivotal direction of Craig Brewer, commands the screen bringing one of his comedy heroes back to gloriously hilarious but always inspirational life. I can’t imagine the real life Moore would have anything but praise for what Murphy and company have done here. An Oscar worthy film about a Blaxploitation hero? Hell yes. It’s every bit as ridiculous as you might imagine but never at the expense of the characters, their real life counterparts or the audience hoping for something great, which this movie most certainly is.
The funnier side of this story is never lost but neither is the more dramatic and poignant moments of Moore and his friends putting their entire livelihoods on the line for nothing more (or less) than what they believe in. With the infectious positivity and tenacity of Rudy Ray Moore at the command of this circus train without a track, they give him nothing less than everything they have. It is crass at times and highly inappropriate the rest of the time but to lose sight of the truly inspirational moments of failing only to use that as fuel to fly higher and further than ever thought possible is to lose sight of the film itself. These are, were, funny people absolutely and yet their determination was the most serious and dominant aspect to their overall success. They gave their all and over forty years later here we are still praising their names. I’d call that success if I’ve ever heard of it.
Murphy is front and center but his supporting cast all have their moments to shine, specifically two names who enthralled me every time they walked into frame; their names, Wesley Snipes and Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Wesley Snipes plays D’Urville, the reluctant director of Moore’s first venture into the cinematic tales of kung-fu badassery I spoke of earlier. He is unenthused and completely full of himself displaying the best facial expressions he’s ever delivered. He is a highlight of this story as is Ms. Randolph as the take-no-shit Lady Reed. Once finding herself in the midst of loser men, she lifts herself up with the help of Moore to become a starlet in her own right. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is an absolute joy to watch as she soaks up every bit of this character breathing life into her all over again. Lady Reed and Dolemite become a force to be reckoned with. Here their stories are told with respect and honesty creating a fascinating film meant to be experienced.
Dolemite Is My Name delivers on every front, making it one of the best films of 2019. Through convincing performances, period accurate clothing actually worn by the real people portrayed in this film, and a well structured storyline, Dolemite is one not to look over this awards season, with special attention definitely going to Murphy. As it streams on Netflix now, there’s no excuse to miss this one. He’s back, people! This is not a drill! Thank God.
Rated R For: pervasive language, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity
Runtime: 117 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key
Directed By: Craig Brewer
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 4.5/ Visuals: 4.5
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes. Now streaming on Netflix.
Check out the trailer below:
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