Cast: Eddie Murphy, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps
Director: Craig Brewer
It’s official everyone, Eddie Murphy is back. After a long period of doing either nothing or nothing good, Murphy’s found the perfect movie to make a comeback with. It’s fitting that a traditional stand-up comedian is able to revive himself in a movie about one of the most prolific comedians of all time, and Murphy’s background certainly enhances the movie. Through a combination of this performance and a story that teaches us about the twists and turns of a man’s life, Dolemite Is My Name maintains an energy and excitement for most of the 118 minute runtime.
The film follows Rudy Ray Moore (Murphy), a struggling comic and musician looking to eventually break into stardom and fame. When he starts to hit his stride through the creation of characters like the pimp named Dolemite, he gathers a following and starts selling albums like never before. Wanting to take his career to the next level, Rudy and his team want to turn Dolemite into the next big black movie star. Even though they have no experience in this area, Rudy plans on having his charisma take him places and eventually get this movie to everyone in the world. Going into this movie, I had very little background on the Dolemite character and Rudy’s career, but if it was as great as Murphy showed it to be, then I can absolutely see why he was so highly revered. From very early on in the movie, you can see the influence Rudy had on comedians and musicians that came after him, so it’s interesting to see a direct correlation between the past and the present. While that portion is fantastic, none of it would’ve worked without a superb performance by Murphy in the leading role. I’m amazed at his ability to capture the mannerisms and facial expressions down to an artform and realistically gives off one of the best performances of the year. Rudy seemed to be a flamboyant, energetic man until the day he died and Murphy did a fantastic job of honoring his legacy. While the representation and the performance are strong, all of this contributes to the most important element of the film; the mood. The main point of Rudy’s career is to make people feel like they’re having a good time, and we feel that energy as long as he’s on screen. The motivation for Rudy to make Dolemite was he didn’t see any truly funny movies out at the time, and we can identify with that logic and feel him try his best to bring that to our screens. Watching a movie inside of a movie doesn’t always work, but in Dolemite Is My Name we see it done masterfully. Dolemite Is My Name is such a unique period-piece comedy that manages to both beautifully represent the memory of a legend while also taking this time period and updating it to make it more accessible for mainstream audiences. I hope Murphy decides to do more movies like this, because I’m more than ok with this path if he keeps moving down it.
Overall, Dolemite Is My Name is made with a certain level of care not traditionally found in comedies. From the acting, to the costume design, to the humor, this isn’t just a great comedy, but it’s a flat out great movie regardless of genre. This is the type of movie that when this year is all said and done, we’ll look back at and be disappointed with the fact that this didn’t get the awards it deserved. With many people having access to this movie through Netflix, people of all backgrounds should sit down and take in the fun and enjoyable atmosphere created by Dolemite Is My Name. They won’t regret their decision.
Overall Score: 9/10