Dolemite Is My Name is one of the most inspirational movies I have seen in forever. I’m not kidding. Real life comedian Rudy Ray Moore re-invents himself as a pimpin’ rap comedy pioneer who fights his way into the mainstream of comedy and Blaxploitation films in the 1970’s. Rudy Ray Moore takes a look at his life and isn’t happy with where he’s ended up. Pretty much the guy people like but don’t take too seriously. He’s fed up and decides to re-invent his persona. He has no shame in finding material, changing up his look, and putting himself out there–even when he’s scared. But the audiences who didn’t pay attention before are laughing harder than ever and promoters take notice.
His comedy is skewed toward a Black audience and as a white person, I didn’t get some of the references; however, his story type comedy is relate-able to anyone who likes story comedy. I know that sounds a bit wishy-washy but I can’t explain it any other way. Think of the comedy poems which start out with– “There once was a guy named Micky….” and you’ve got the template for many of Dolemite’s jokes. Now success is great, he’s making money but he wants more. He wants a comedy album. Except his comedy is so full of the F-word, among other profanities, distributors won’t release it and can’t play on the radio. Does this stop him? NO. He finds a way. When he sets his heart on making a movie, he does whatever it takes to get it done even though the odds are stacked against him. His journey is remarkable and those who went for the ride sure got what they bargained for.
The Star Of The Film
Eddie Murphy is Rudy Ray Moore/Dolemite. Like one and the same. He is sooo amazingly good in this film, I thought he must have been born to play this role. He’s vulnerable, he’s hilarious, he’s sincere, and he has a drive that won’t quit— no matter what. If he doesn’t get an nomination for this, Netflix should make their own award for him. The supporting cast has gems throughout as well with Keegan-Michael Key playing Jerry the screenwriter who gets caught up in Rudy’s sincere passion for making a movie with all the things “Black people like—kung fu, sex, comedy”. There are times when you think Jerry is a crossroads– do I stay in this mess or do I hang in there and see where it lands? He stays and I’m sure glad he did. Da’Vine Joy Randolph plays Lady Reed. A standout in this movie as she transforms from a dowdy, angry, cheated on, emotionally beaten down woman into a confident, beautiful, wise, and appreciated woman of color. Rudy sees something in her no one else did and reminded her of it until she believed it herself. Rudy was ahead of his time casting her in his first feature and she knows it when she thanks him for it saying it was the first time she “saw someone on the screen who liked like her”. Jeez, that was in the 70’s! Diversity in movies sure has taken a looooong time and still has far to go. If she doesn’t get a nomination–Hello Netflix—get another one ready please.
Rudy Ray Moore’s entourage is solid as a rock with acting. I give props to all of them far too many to list here. But there is one other standout which surprised me and that is Wesley Snipes. I’ve never been a fan of his, not sure why exactly, except his vocal style always annoyed me a bit. Like he tries too hard or something. But in this role as D’Urville, a small bit actor who likes to think of himself as a MUCH bigger celebrity, he fills a void Rudy Ray Moore needs to get his movie made. D’Urville is completely narcissistic with such narrow focus, he doesn’t see the big picture Rudy is painting and misses out on the true glory of journey. Wesley Snipes is completely out of his usual zone and the leap is worth every penny spent. Almost unrecognizable in the role creating a perfect balance with Eddie Murphy. Ahem, a supporting nomination would be nice here…
The movie is CHOCK-FULL of swear words, with some nudity presented in humorous ways, and two takeaways I hope everyone who sees it burns into their brains and recites whenever they need a boost before heading out the door or before a big presentation: “Dolemite is my name and fucking up mother-fuckers is my game!” For those times when doors seem to keep closing on you or feeling discouraged about what you’re doing, Rudy Ray Moore tells people repeatedly throughout this film: “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do or be something.” Inspirations come in many forms and this time it came wearing sweet pimpin’ fashion. Watch the trailer here:
Watch the trailer for the original Dolemite movie here:
If this doesn’t inspire you to watch Dolemite Is My Name, something’s wrong with you…..