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Josh Reviews Dolemite is My Name

April 1st, 2020
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Dolemite is My Name, directed by Craig Brewer and written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, stars Eddie Murphy as performer Rudy Ray Moore, who portrayed the character of Dolemite in his stand-up routine and several “blaxploitation” films.  The film charts Rudy’s joruney from struggling comic to his creation of his Dolemite character, and eventually his independent production of the first Dolemite film in 1975.

I loved this film! I’m a little surprised it hasn’t gotten more acclaim!

Eddie Murphy is electric in the title role as Rudy Ray Moore, the man who created the character of Dolemite for himself in his stand-up comedy act and, eventually, in a series of movies.  I thought it was fsacinating the way the film allowed us to follow Rudy as he struggles to find his voice, and a niche for himself in show-business.  It’s only when he develops the persona of the raunchy, brash Dolemite that his career takes off.  After a successful tour, Rudy gets the idea to create a film starring himself as Dolemite.  When the studios turn down his plans, Rudy decides to make the film on his own.

There have been some great films made previously about an amateurish movie production (most recently James Franco’s The Disaster Artist); I love those types of stories, of a creative person struggling to bring his vision into reality.  Dolemite is My Name truly ignites when it dives into that aspect of Rudy’s life.  I loved the film’s exploration of the many trials and tribulations of actually creating a low-budget film.  This was very cool to see!

But there was plenty beyond that in the film to enjoy; I found the entire run-time of Dolemite is My Name to be an absolute delight.

It’s rare when Eddie Murphy appears in a truly great role on-screen these days, but when he does — as he does here — he reminds us that his comedic timing and charismatic energy cannot be equalled.  Mr. Murphy is on-fire in this film.  That old Eddie Murphy charisma is on full display.  He’s electric whenever he’s on screen!  Mr. Murphy was so funny, but he also nailed all of the film’s dramatic scenes in a way that made it look very easy.  This is a fantastic performance.

Mr. Murphy surrounded himself with an insanely funny and talented cast.  To his credit, he clearly did not have any problem giving funny scenes to the other members of this ensemble!  For instance: I never suspected that Wesley Snipes could be this funny.  Mr. Snipes is a riot as the arrogant and affected D’Urville Martin, who Rudy finagles into directing the film.

Keegan-Michael Key plays the intellectual, academic author Jerry Jones, who does not seem like a natural fit to write Rudy’s raunchy Dolemite film.  I love how Mr. Key plays this character with such a huge stick up his behind.  It’s comic gold.

Craig Robinson plays Rudy’s friend Ben Taylor.  Ben has a band, and as the film begins, we see that Rudy is performing some not-so-favorably-received comedy at their performances.  Mr. Robinson brings a lot of warmth and good-humor to this character.

Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Ron Cephas Jones (Luke Cage), and so many others fill out the universe of the film.

I also have to highlight the amazing Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who plays Lady Reed, a single mother singer who Rudy takes under his wing.  I love this character.  Ms. Randolph is a fantastic discovery.  She is able to effortlessly go toe-to-toe with Mr. Murphy in their scenes together.  I love the way the film charts the course of Rudy and Lady Reed’s friendship.  I was particually pleased that the film didn’t go down the path of the two friends having a romantic relationship.  It was great that Rudy was simply a good mentor and friend for Lady Reed, opening doors for her talent and giving her a chance to shine.

I loved Dolemite is My Name!  This was hilarious and deeply moving portrait of a self-made man.  You can watch it on Netflix right now!

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