Sunday 3 November 2019

Film Review: Dolemite Is My Name

Dolemite is his name, and fuckin' up motherfuckers is his game. Eddie Murphy makes a long overdue comeback in Craig Brewer's biopic of comedian, musician and blaxploitation star Rudy Ray Moore.

The tale of Rudy Ray Moore would too outlandish and strange, if it weren't true. And therein lies the charm of Dolemite Is My Name, an endlessly energetic and entertaining underdog story that is guaranteed to make your smile stretch from ear to ear.

An ageing comedian whose tired routine isn't vibing on the stand-up circuit, Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) is at a crossroads in life. He's recorded albums, he's developed all these routines – but nothing has taken him from MCing at the local comedy club to the big time.

That is until he assumes the persona of Dolemite, an ostentatious and foul-mouthed pimp who wields a cane and is impeccably dressed. The raucous act is a winner from the get-go, and soon enough Rudy is touring the country, recording hit comedy albums and posing naked with a bowl of fruit for the cover art. It's not long before Rudy dreams of putting Dolemite on the big screen – but no-one is willing to give him the budget to bring his vision to life, so he sets out to do it himself.

With Moore something of a personal hero, and his journey from struggle street to cult icon of the silver screen so resonant, Dolemite Is My Name is an especially personal passion project for Murphy, whose rapid rise from Saturday Night Live to Beverley Hills Cop and then the best part of decades in the doldrums equally underlining the fickleness of fame.

This coalesces into Murphy giving his best performance in a long, long time, practically bouncing off the edges of the frame as he puffs out his chest, flashes those pearly whites and struts across the stage in full swing as Moore as Dolemite. It's a role that fits Murphy like a glove, and he's a riot.

Moore's inspiring upward trajectory is made all the better because of how much he cares for those around him who are along for the ride, such as Da'Vine Joy Randolph's Lady Reed.

Wesley Snipes also stars as self-important actor and director D'Urville Martin, who Moore hires to shoot his low-budget Dolemite movie. Snipes plays Martin as your classic 'auteur' who sees himself above the pimps, kung-fu and crime surrounding Dolemite – it's not something we've seen from Snipes before that complements his equally illusive offscreen persona.

The all-star supporting cast also includes the likes of Keegan-Michael Key, Titus Burgess, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Snoop Dogg, Craig Robinson and Chris Rock.

The Verdict: 8/10

A charming and effervescent underdog story, Dolemite Is My Name would make a great companion piece to The Disaster Artist, another film about an artist who put themselves up on that big screen through sheer willpower. Eddie Murphy's comeback gains momentum in this dynamite and dynamic feel-good film.

Dolemite Is My Name is now streaming on Netflix

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I agree with you here. I think this movie was a delight.



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