Murphy is as good as he has ever been, and Rudy is a raucous subject, never dull.
Dolemite Is My Name
Director: Craig Brewer (The Legend of Tarzan)
Screenplay: Scott Alexander (American Crime Story), Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood)
Cast: Eddie Murphy
Runtime: 1 h 57 min
By: John DeSando
“How’d my life get so small?” Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy, who’s not been this good in 30 years)
Rudy Ray Moore has been called the father of rap and more certainly a force in the blaxploitation movement several decades ago. “Dolemite is My Name” is an entertaining depiction of his rise ( see the above quote at a low moment in his career) to stardom as a recording star and movie actor, but more as a force in the movie enthusiasm for sexy, violent, funny films starring blacks in stories about their own imaginative lives, not those seen through the white lens.
Nothing new is added to the docudrama recipe here, although it would seem to call for creativity itself given Rudy’s imaginative genius. Yet, a fine performance by Murphy, who captures Rudy’s charming enthusiasm and at times naivete (think Ed Wood), anchors the film in Rudy’s genial turn of phrases and gentle put downs, an Oscar nomination for Murphy possible.
The ensemble cast deserves a nod for supporting Murphy’s performance, that allows them all to be the stars they wish to be, given that his dominance as star and producer could have eclipsed their performances. The almost whimsical way everyone participates in Rudy’s dream creates a warm, energetic, smooth production.
Although the bio could be accused of hitting the “follow-your-dream” theme too heavily, the story of this sometimes down-and -out record clerk is an inspiration for those who love the history of entertainment and may themselves dream of stardom. BTW: The period detail is worth seeing for itself.
Dolemite Is My Name is a production of Netflix, which has become a major studio in a few years. Although the film will be seen streaming for a longtime, this short theatrical run offers the audience a chance to see spectacular costuming and big performances on the big screen. Do it now.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com