“DOLEMITE IS MY NAME” starring Eddie Murphy from director Craig Brewer is coming to Netflix and select theaters. This is the story of Rudy Ray Moore, a comedian, rap pioneer, singer, actor and filmmaker, played by Eddie Murphy. This man was in constant search of the proper spotlight for his talents and he would prove the world wrong when he found it within an alter-ego he created named Dolemite. Dolemite was a ladies man, he was vulgar, comical, knew a little about kung-fu, and would go on to become an icon in the Blaxploitation era when his small film, simply titled “Dolemite” hit the masses.
I’m a huge Eddie Murphy fan and I’ve been waiting patiently for him make a resurgence in the industry that I think he is long overdue for. This movie was a large step in the right direction for that. It was well-crafted from the writing side. It does manage to tell large sections of Moore’s life with a focus remaining on the positive. Not meaning this was a puff piece because I don’t think it was. But it did seem to make the steps Moore had to fight through to gain stardom, come across as a little easy when that wasn’t the case. The story keeps the mood up-beat by focusing on Murphy’s sense-of-humor, his comedic delivery as Moore, and for that aspect it works.
It’s routinely comical in capturing the exploits and the achievements of Rudy Ray Moore, and Murphy in the persona is impressive. There were a couple of nicely woven dramatic undertones that Murphy was able to thrive in. But I do have a feeling these moments were mixed in between too much, admittedly effective humor, to allow the movie overall, or Murphy’s performance, a fighting chance come award season. Although I think as a biopic that doesn’t necessarily do a deep-dive, but instead aims to capture the comedic style of Moore and the social-climate of the era, it completely succeeds. Murphy was his old comedic self and it was nostalgic and refreshing at the same time.
The story-line and the performances kept me engaged throughout and with a great cast surrounding Murphy, there was a strong blend of different personality types to keep the laughs feeling fresh. It was a talented cast with strong comedic backgrounds in many instances, and when added with the tight writing, it results in the laugh-out-loud moments you want. Plus, the things Moore actually did were pretty wild, outlandish, and hysterical on their own. And Eddie Murphy very can much have a similar persona to that when he chooses. So, I felt it was a perfect blend of effective humor and a historical depiction that never felt heavy-handed. Although, I think Murphy would have excelled had there been a slightly stronger emphasis on the dramatic at times.
As I just mentioned the supporting cast is marvelous. Wesley Snipes was fantastic in his role and after a long stint out of the spotlight, it was awesome to see his comedic charm was still in place. He felt nicely fit into the part of this snobbier member of the team and he had an amusing chemistry with Murphy. Keegan-Michael Key adds a lot to the story with his comedic delivery as does Craig Robinson, Mike Epps, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Titus Burgess. Everyone gets moments to splash their sense-of-humor into the mix and it all blends together into an appealing comedy that doesn’t get stale over time. It has a great time-period soundtrack to add atmosphere to the story. And the production design was on point as well with detailed work on the wardrobes to effectively pull you back into the 70’s.
There was a noticeable energy among the cast that translated nicely onscreen and while it does run maybe 15 minutes longer than needed, the pace is relatively consistent. It could’ve been more exploratory into the life of Moore, but as a film that centers on the more known highlights and Moore’s comedic tone, it does entertain. The writing was clever. The performances were eccentric, lively, and loaded with a comedic charm that complements the story nicely. If you are a fan of Murphy, time-period comedies, or remember the days of Rudy Ray Moore as Dolemite, then certainly give this one a shot when it hits Netflix. I had a great time with it, I enjoyed seeing this ensemble of performers, and while it may not get a lot of award praise, it’s a comedy that does what it should, it makes you laugh.