Directed by: Craig Brewer
Written by: Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson
The pursuit of artistic expression can be so pure when the right people pour their hearts into the product. It creates such a galvanizing nature that assembles everyone to complete the project as shown in this wonderful comedy that brings back Eddie Murphy in style to show us what we’ve been missing for years.
As a struggling artist working for a record store, Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) has dreams of having his name known by everyone. After getting some inspiration from others, he decides to chase his dream, which leads him down the road to creating a film. Through an unrelenting positive spirit and the collaboration of a whimsical collection of characters, Rudy dreams of making Dolemite a household name.
The return of Eddie Murphy into popular culture is a much-welcomed revitalization of comedy and he brings it in Dolemite is my Name. He delivers such an enthusiastic and stylish portrayal of Moore that I could not see anyone else taking on this role. With the script he’s given, Murphy delivers it with the humor that made him a star in the 1980s. He’s able to capture the entrepreneurial spirit of wanting to put together something special without minding the opinions of detractors looking to slow him down. An incredible return to form by the legend and hopefully, he continues to grace us with more of these performances.
Passion lies at the center of the story, as it shows Moore struggling to construct his own jokes to putting together this film. His unflinching belief in himself makes him so appealing. Many times throughout the story, he has individuals come to him with doubt that his project will succeed. Whether it be due to finances or popularity, but he has a will that pushed beyond anything slowing him down because he believes he has something to contribute. It’s almost the equivalent of Tommy Wiseau and his pursuits in making The Room except Moore was well-liked by the people he worked with and remained self-aware of what he was creating.
Moore’s journey has led to creating Dolemite, a blaxploitation movie filled with kung fu, nudity, and some corny dialogue. The movie brilliantly establishes what people want from a film made by Rudy Ray Moore and he plays into that fanbase. It’s emphasized in a scene where Rudy and his friends watch a Jack Lemmon feature and cannot comprehend what everyone found so funny. He has his own brand of humor and while it won’t be loved by all, the people he made it for will appreciate it.
The supporting cast is filled to the brim with talent that obviously hopped in this project for the possibility to work with Eddie Murphy. There’s Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Chris Rock, Snoop Dog, and Wesley Snipes. All actors who have made their own marks but are willing to come together in this great picture. Wesley Snipes, in particular, truly brings it with such an exuberant performance and in his limited scenes, he becomes a standout character that nearly steals the whole film. It’s great to see him not taking the role so seriously and just having fun. While all of them definitely came to play, the standout supporting character is undoubtedly Lady Reed portrayed by the amazing Da’Vine Joy Randolph. She holds the emotional throughline during the film and serves as a true friend of Rudy Ray Moore. Randolph brings so much vibrancy and composure to this role to counteract the other lively characters.
This story inspires and maintains its comedy from beginning to end. The film’s production wears its heart on its sleeve by providing all of these tremendous talents the opportunity to shine. It’s crude and raunchy just like Moore was through his comedy and what made him gain the title: The Godfather of Rap. All of his spirit is embodied through Murphy’s excellent performance so everyone can remember the name Dolemite.