What a joy it is to see Eddie Murphy back on screen in an incredible true story DOLEMITE IS MY NAME.
If you’re looking for a real tonic in these challenging times, then let me recommend this incredible true story that will make you roar with laughter – DOLEMITE IS MY NAME. It’s an extra special treat though because it marks the return to the big screen of one of my favourite funnymen, the incomparable Eddie Murphy. What a joy it is to see him back and in such dazzling style as rap pioneer and comedian Rudy Ray Moore who became a bonafide Blaxploitation phenomenon of 1970s culture.
But to begin with, Rudy Ray Moore is struggling to make a name for himself on the L.A. club scene, working in a record store and trying (unsuccessfully) to get his music onto the in-house radio station. His spots as MC in a local nightclub don’t seem to produce anything for him either until a chance meeting with a homeless man spouting rhythmic proclamations – one of which includes the name “Dolemite” – gives Rudy an idea. He creates a loud, brash stage persona called “Dolemite” and with a very rude and funny routine then premieres this at the club to wild applause. Rudy is on his way.
Getting his Aunt to finance a record with his newly successful character is the next step but then as the record starts to sell and acclaim starts to come Rudy’s way with a tour, he gets even bigger ideas (let’s include some kung-fu!!) for where he can take his glorious incarnation.
Director Craig Brewer has assembled a splendid cast alongside Murphy to portray all the larger-than-life characters than we encounter. You’ll see Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ron Cephas Jones, Bob Odenkirk and the great Barry Shabaka Henley. But there’s more! You also have Snoop Dogg, Chris Rock and Wesley Snipes too – Snipes, in particular, delivering a spot-on portrayal of a snobby actor called D’Urville Martin who becomes the director of Rudy’s Dolemite feature film.
There are also new stars-in-the-making in DOLEMITE with Da’Vine Joy Randolph as single mother Lady Reed who becomes part of Rudy’s tour and Luenell who is absolutely winning as Rudy’s Aunt – both names to watch out for.
Brewer marshals everything in Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski’s screenplay superbly and creates such a vivid, colourful portrayal of 1970s L.A. and its film community with his cinematographer Eric Steelberg – a longtime collaborator with writer/director Jason Reitman who has shot such fab movies as The Front Runner, Up In The Air and Juno.
But above all, this is Eddie Murphy’s triumph and he delivers one of the best performances of his illustrious career in a story that will see you laugh uproariously and be really moved by his character’s determination and drive to be an artist. It’s all such awesome fun and such a pleasure to watch for all its 1 hour 58 minute running time. Do yourself a favour in these lockdown times and catch DOLEMITE IS MY NAME – it’s an absolute blast!