Dolemite Is My Name Review: A fittingly funny rise from the ashes story that boasts the comeback of a lifetime from Eddie Murphy
Like the man it’s based on, Netflix’s new film, Dolemite Is My Name, is raw and determined as it captures the slick and stylized story of comedy legend Rudy Ray Moore and boasts a true return to form performance from Eddie Murphy.
The film depicts the events of Moore’s (Murphy) rise to stardom as he starts as a struggling talent working at the infamous Dolphin’s of Hollywood in the 1970s. Although he believes that he could be the next big name in Hollywood, Moore is constantly met with doubt from naysayers who tell him that he’ll never be anything. However, by utilizing everything at his disposal and creating a raunchy and badass character from the crazy stories of a local man (Ron Cephas Jones), Moore begins to make a name for himself and garners a following that eventually makes him a comedy, rap, and Blaxploitation legend.
This film works so well and is so engaging because of how it really shows Moore’s rise from the ground up. With the film really delving into him having to do his own live recordings for his comedy albums, selling them out of his car, and even putting all of the pieces together, regardless of how it might impact his future, to make his dreams of being on big screen possible. Moore’s story is incredibly relatable, and his aspirations and humbleness make him a true underdog hero that viewers will easily find themselves keep their fingers crossed for hoping that his dreams come true. The entire film is as if you are watching one man fight the odds and the best part of it all is that it’s actually true. Upon doing more research on Moore’s rise to stardom, the film actually does a fairly accurate job depicting the effort and passion he put into everything he did. From the friendships he gains to disappoints he faces; it all comes across very real and it’s in part due to the stellar performances from everyone – especially Murray.
While Murray has been away from the spotlight and even further away from the kind of comedy in RAW that made him so popular, he gives the comeback performance of a lifetime as the true comeback king. I really haven’t seen him look so in-control and relaxed in a lead role in quite some time, but here is literally commands the screen with confidence and a hard to resist charm. He brings both the raunchy and obscene humor that Moore made his career of and the driving sense of passion that makes him instantly likeable. Not to mention, he brings the style of rhyming that made Moore an early influencer to rap musicians and that would later have him dubbed as the Godfather of Rap. You really find yourself connecting to both the times he succeeds in turning his dreams into really as well as the moments of disappoint he faces when naysayers give him grief and it’s all made very believable because of Murray’s strong performance
The entire cast is honestly perfect and is filled with a group of great actors. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is fiercely funny as Lady Reed and she has a great arc that mirrors Moore’s story well, Wesley Snipes has a strong comeback himself as D’Urville Martin and displays his cynicism and disbelief for Moore excellently, and Keegan-Michael Key as Jerry, the writer Moore brings on to write the film, was surprisingly fun and he’s more reserved here than most of his performances. Even just seeing the likes of Mike Epps and Chris Rock back on-screen is a treat and after seeing Craig Robinson sing a killer version of the Dolemite theme song, I’d love to see him flaunt his vocal talents more in the future.
Honestly, what makes Dolemite Is My Name really cool is how it gives viewers a true peek behind the curtain in Moore’s creation of his comedy albums and first film. The film does drag a bit when the film initially delves into Moore creating the character Dolemite and the film’s funky 70s style doesn’t come into full swing yet, so I was a little worried that the film wasn’t going to pick up in energy. Thankfully, that’s wasn’t the case for long and the film really picks up in energy as Moore takes Dolemite to the stand-up stage. From seeing him create his own live shows with the help of friends and create the covers and distribute his albums, it’s actually a very detailed rise that’s enjoyable to watch. Even when Moore and his group create a feature film, there’s a lot of hilarious and fun moments that call back to Moore creating one of the most iconic Blaxploitation films of all-time.
Dolemite Is My Name is a perfect tribute to everything that makes Moore one of the most iconic names in comedy and Blaxploitation films as well as an early influencer to rap music. Murphy is back and better than ever and surrounded by a cast and crew that shows the kind of passion and drive that Moore would be proud to see. Murphy will once again team-up with Snipes and director Craig Brewer for a long-awaited sequel of Coming to America and if they can conjure up the same charm they bring here, we could be seeing a second coming for Murray that I’m all ready for.
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