Dolemite Is My Name

  • Directed by Craig Brewer
  • September 7, 2019 (TIFF) / October 4, 2019 (US)
  • Netflix

The story of how Rudy Ray Moore and his alter ego Dolemite became a blaxploitation phenomenon.

Dolemite Is My Name is a funny and strangely heartwarming film about how one man essentially willed himself into fame. It is the story of an underdog that came out on top. Rudy Ray Moore and a group of friends made a classic film that should not have been a classic. He didn’t take no for an answer and rolled head on into his dreams. This story is funny and strange and just plain down quirky. You find yourself laughing and identifying with this person who found inspiration and took it as far as they possibly could and never gave up.

There’s a weird heartwarming vibe despite the level of profanity and nudity in this movie. As with any Hollywood dramatization, take what you see with a grain of salt and use it as a starting point to learn more. There are a few things that they portray in this story that to the best of my knowledge did not occur quite in the way they show.

The heart of the story-the element that humanizes Moore the most-is the relationship between Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) and Lady Reed (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). In the story here he plucked her from obscurity and gave her a chance at a better life. Reed was no big name but in the context of the film she got a chance to be something more than what she at first was. Though Moore and Reed never establish a romantic relationship, Murphy and Randolph craft a humorous and close bond that helps move the story along.

Murphy was absolutely brilliant. While I would not say he has serious dramatic chops, he can certainly bring weight to comedy while keeping it very funny. He creates a very flawed character but the one that you fall in love with and just want to see succeed. Moore is supremely confident in himself and that he has something to offer to the point that he inspires others.

As good as Murphy is in Dolemite Is My Name Wesley Snipes as D’Urville Martin, the director of Dolemite, is rather scene stealing. Snipes definitely has talent but has managed to get by on a good screen persona rather than digging into his skillset. What we get here is something real and funny. His D’Urville Martin is a pretentious nobody that thinks his bit parts have made him into something great. Then again compared to everyone else involved in the making of Dolemite he was a big deal.

Snipes creates a character that is funny and frustrated because he can’t believe he is directing this particular movie and is continually wondering how he found himself in the position he’s in. And Snipes adds nuances and actions to the performance that make his D’Urville Martin much more real and tell a joke when probably none was actually written. The coke finger to the nose. The look bordering on drifting off. A haughty tone and demeanor. And it made him the focus each time he was in a scene.

Besides Murphy and Snipes, there is a cast here that includes Keegan-Michael Key as Dolemite screenwriter Jerry Jones, Mike Epps as Jimmy Lynch, Craig Robinson as Ben Taylor, Tituss Burgess as Theodore Toney, Aleksandar Filimonović as record producer Joseph Bihari who helps bankroll Dolemite, Tip “T.I.” Harris as Walter Crane, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nicholas Josef Von Sternberg, Chris Rock as DJ Bobby Vale who provides Moore with a key opportunity to release his film, Snoop Dogg as Roj, Bob Odenkirk as studio executive Lawrence Woolner among others in a talented cast. And they do a great job without bringing ego into this. They put forth a performance and create engaging and endearing individuals.

The costuming is just fabulous. There is something charmingly tacky about 70s clothing and they do a fine job of showcasing it here. All that polyester and plaid and big hair and all that. They capture the era without going overboard. Costume designer Ruth E. Carter didn’t just go through a catalog and do their designs but rather appears to have taken a genuine look at the era. With production design by Clay A. Griffith and art direction by Beat Frutiger and set decoration by Lisa K. Sessions you are transported to the time.

This is well-directed by Craig Brewer who has been behind Hustle & Flow, the Footloose remake, Black Snake Moan, and the sequel Coming 2 America. He helms something that is alternately crude and heartwarming and just plain captivating with an uplifting finale that will bring a smile to your face.

Dolemite Is My Name is a great biographical film that is also a very funny comedy. It’s got heart and great characters and just a fantastic cast all around. This is something this is a great underdog story you should check out!

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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