Dolemite Is My Name

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5

Dolemite Is My Name
dir Craig Brewer
scr Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
prd John Davis, John Fox, Eddie Murphy
with Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson, Mike Epps, Tituss Burgess, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ron Cephas Jones, Snoop Dogg, Tip "TI" Harris, Chris Rock
release US 4.Oct.19,
UK 11.Oct.19
19/US Netflix 1h58

snipes key smit

robinson, epps, burgess, murphy, randolph
The extraordinary true story of Rudy Ray Moore becomes a thunderously entertaining biopic in the hands of Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski and Craig Brewer. And it offers Eddie Murphy with a plum role as a likeable rogue who becomes a star against all odds. Not only does the early 1970s setting offer plenty of fun with costumes, settings and music, but the story has a terrific resonance in today's get-famous-quick culture.
In his mid-40s, Rudy (Murphy) is struggling to get anyone to play his songs on the radio. Working in a Los Angeles record shop, he hears stories from a homeless man (Jones) recounting the rude exploits of someone called Dolemite, so Rudy adopts the persona and adapts the stories into comical rhyming raps. He records his first album himself, selling it underground before a label picks him up. And then he leverages his royalties to make a Dolemite movie, landing top actor D'Urville (Snipes) to both costar and direct with a crew of film students.
Rudy is lively and funny, with an ability to see opportunities where few exist. He drafts his friends (Robinson, Epps and Burgess) into everything he does, discovers snappy comic Lady Reed (Randolph) while on the road, and hires a playwright (Key) to script his film. And then there's the challenge of releasing a movie studios don't want to touch. Then when Dolemite finally hits cinemas, cruel reviews can't diminish the public's enthusiasm (Rudy made four sequels and a spin-off).

Murphy storms through the role as a man who won't let the unpredictability of fame get in his way. When he slips into Dolemite mode, complete with lavish pimp outfits, he's riotously hilarious, bouncing off everyone around him and taking no prisoners. Each problem has an inventive solution, which only deepens his posse's loyalty. Opposite him, standouts include Snipes' nutty diva and Randolph's witty and surprisingly moving single mother.

There isn't a dull character on the screen, and the script cleverly weaves in a continuous stream of amusing details. Each stage in Rudy's desperate journey to become a star is so carefully set up and performed that the film has the ring of truth about it, even with its wildly over-the-top attitude and style. It's so much fun that it's bound to send viewers back to explore Rudy's music, comedy and movies. And maybe learn a thing or two about how to treat people on the way up.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 2.Oct.19

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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall