Between the hustle and bustle of the awards season, it becomes all too easy to be swept away in the drama and critique. From odd nominee choices to wonderous triumphs (here’s to you Bong Joon-ho) the wave of information is sometimes too much to handle. Where politics begin to pervade into media, the experiences that separate themselves from these overwhelming social understandings are a breath of fresh air.
Which, if you can refrain from relentless laughter, Dolemite is My Name delivers in ecstatic bounds.
Dolemite is My Name, directed by Craig Brewer, written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, stars Eddie Murphy in this comedic biopic about comedian and actor Rudy Ray Moore. Delving into the predominantly obscure genre of blaxploitation film, Murphy, with scene-stealing perfomances by Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Wesley Snipes, Dolemite is My Name is a fantastic and wholly uplifting look into the rise of Rudy Ray Moore in American low budget cinema.
Murphy performs in a perfect recreation of the late Moore. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, the movie follows the unsuccessful Rudy Ray Moore. After failing to make it big in L.A., Moore has aged and is teetering on the edge of hopelessness, though underlined by this relentless desire to be praised. In a somewhat split part, Murphy morphs between the downtrodden Rudy, down on his luck with lackluster album sales, and the boisterous, almost caricature-esque Dolemite, strolling through the street and thinking up rhymes for this act. From changing his clothes to match that of a pimp and adhering to him a general sense of leisurely intensity, Rudy adopts the personality of a fast-rhyming lyrical anomaly, always quick with a comeback and never one to stop while the iron is hot. After successful comedy album releases, the duality fades as Rudy embraces the character further, eventually emerging onto the silver screen in a mirror of Moore’s actual first movie, Dolemite.
In what would enter the overarching genre of Blaxploitation, Dolemite and Moore paved a way for more campy, low budget, yet still unconsciously funny films, to enter the mainstream by strength of their will alone. Whereas movies of this genre focus intensely on characters with oftentimes questionably racial undertones, Rudy Ray Moore and those who helped make his movies turn this on its head, instead using the medium to expand their interests and experiences, many of which are shown in Dolemite is My Name. With Moore’s comical karate moves and his vocal style, which bends more towards rhymes and rap, Murphy and his costars embrace the wave of African-American artistry that emerged in the early and mid 70s, making it personal and idealistic in a time when ideas such as theirs were shafted and snubbed by most movie-goers.
In what looks like the most fun Murphy has had in years on the big screen, Dolemite is My Name is the quintessential Artiste movie — the struggling artist paving their own way, just as was Ed Wood and The Disaster Artist, and with enough horribly vulgar, yet quotable lines that it will remain reverberating in your head, just as Moore’s rhymes bounce back and forth.