After a good chunk of years stashed away from Hollywood, Eddie Murphy is back and firing on all cylinders with Dolemite Is My Name. Charming, effortlessly entertaining, and hilarious as all heck, the Rudy Ray Moore biopic is must-see Netflix programming for anyone with a funny bone to pick after Murphy’s extended absence from the silver screen.
Going from a struggling, straggling middle-aged entertainer in 1970’s LA, Dolemite Is My Name follows Moore’s rise to fame on the comedy front as he strikes gold selling comedy records based around his foul-mouthed pimp character, Dolemite. After finally amassing a humble fortune in his middle age, Moore pushes himself to keep growing his career towards Hollywood. Together with his community, Moore risks everything he’s worked for to make a feature-length Dolemite movie and push himself towards the higher levels of public fame he insatiably craves.
Thanks to Murphy and crew’s electric enthusiasm, Dolemite is probably the quintessential feel-good movie of 2019. Even with dozens of (really funny) vulgarities flying on the screen, it’s genuinely inspiring seeing the inexperienced, but determined Moore get his community together and hustle up to put on a show. Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and many more hilarious black comedians hit and never miss, and additionally, Wesley Snipes steals every single scene he’s in as the film in the making’s rambunctiously snobby actor/director, D’Urville Martin. A solid contender for the single funniest performance of 2019.
A silky smooth score and soundtrack (more than once nailed by Robinson’s musical talents) accompany the blaxploitation hijinks to make Dolemite a real pleaser all around, all except for in one area. On multiple instances, provocative themes of racial representation, classism, and cultural communication in Moore’s predominantly black community are raised, but not quite followed through on.
More often than not, these talking points are waved off with a joke or forgotten within a scene or two, which is disappointing given they’re prevalent enough to warrant one’s attention and not be ignored. Especially with the fascinating (true or not) origin of Moore’s Dolemite character, whose very particular routine would become the forefather of modern rap as we know it, it’s a letdown that the film’s more substantive elements aren’t explored or dissected, only teased. Resultingly, it’s likewise tough to really crack past a surface level viewing of Moore as a man despite Murphy’s overflow of personality. Even the film’s spiritual brethren in 2017’s Disaster Artist managed to tie a bow on its themes about friendship and success.
Mirrored by Eddie Murphy and his co-stars’ vibrant energy, Dolemite Is My Name is a blast and a half only missing fulfillment on its promising, but inattentive thematic pursuits.
Fresh, fun, and groovy, this here’s a real recommended movie