Review by Camden Ferrell
Dolemite Is My Name is a new comedy-drama from Netflix. Directed by Craig Brewer (Black Snake Moan), this film premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. The film mostly succeeds thanks to a stellar cast, sharp timing, and a respect for its subject.
This film follows the real-life story of comedic legend Rudy Ray Moore. Despite all of the odds against him, Moore becomes a comedic pioneer and creates his very own blaxploitation film in the 1970’s. This is a very unique and original story that has lots of charisma and flair. Moore isn’t big amongst certain demographics, but this movie is the perfect way to educate more people about his career.
The writing of this film is fairly strong throughout. It has a great subject that is naturally funny and charming, and this is where a lot of the life in the script comes from. It develops its characters in their actions and interactions, and it has a deep understanding of Moore and his cultural influence at the time.
The highlight of this movie is Eddie Murphy’s (Coming to America) glorious performance as Moore. He perfectly captures the essence of Moore with an uncanny touch. He has so much energy in every scene, and he is a powerhouse that propels this movie throughout. It’s a welcome return to the big screen for Murphy since he hasn’t been acting as frequently as he used to. He is an actor worthy of the spectacle and grandeur that is Moore, and he plays it perfectly.
The supporting cast is also fairly strong. Keegan-Michael Key, Tituss Burgess, Craig Robinson, and more star alongside Murphy. They each have their own individual personalities that are evident in the way they carry themselves throughout the movie. They are funny, witty, and are a perfect supporting cast for Murphy.
I really enjoyed how it gave a behind the scenes look into Moore’s work, especially his film. We get to see the creation of the Dolemite film and all of the shenanigans that took place. It is the film’s most energetic and colorful section, and it really is great to see all the actors take such joy in the process. The movie properly shows us the crude and obscene Dolemite persona in all of its glory, and its energy is highly contagious.
However, there are many moments throughout the movie that feel like it’s on autopilot, merely coasting on the talent of the actors. It can drag the movie significantly and feel a little lethargic. Regardless, this is overcome thanks to the abundant chemistry of the actors and the endearing story at its center.
This is a culturally significant film that is indicative of an era in filmmaking that is underrepresented. It redefines what it means to be successful and shows the virtue in perseverance and confidence. It is a strong and funny biopic thanks to the rich story and phenomenal lead performance.
Dolemite Is My Name is currently streaming on Netflix.