Film Review – Dolemite is My Name

Directed: Craig Brewer

Writer: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps

Tagline: “Make your own legend”

Trivia: Eddie Murphy is a huge fan of Wesley Snipes, and this movie is the first time the two of them worked together.

The best thing about biopic movies is that they educate you or at least get you curious to investigate an era or a person that the movie depicted.

This is what happened to me after watching Dolemite is My Name. I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with the term Blaxploitation. I had to go and research it and read more about the history of it.

That on it’s own is a great proof for the significance of this movie.

In Dolemite Is My Name, Eddie Murphy is playing the real-life comedian; proto-rapper and Blaxploitation star Rudy Ray Moore in one of his best performances.

I’ve been teaching entrepreneurship for over 20 years and If I would have to show my students a movie what it means to be an entrepreneur it would be this one.

It’s a story about making things happen against all odds and even when everyone tells you it’s impossible. More specifically, it’s a story of black entrepreneurship, about ownership and creativity blossoming even in a society that is insisting to hold certain people back.

The title itself is a shout of confidence. Dolemite Is My Name leaves you wanting to go out and make something – a poem, a painting, a piece of music, even just for yourself, to leave your mark on the world.

Eddy Murphy is in his home court arena of R-rated comedy of profanity and no one is more happier that the audience to see him back reclaiming his title as “Mr. F**k you man”.

The rest of the cast (Wesley Snipes, Snoop Dogg and an excellent Da’Vine Joy Randolph) shines as well, thanks in part to costume designer Ruth Carter (“Black Panther”), working with a riot of colorful period clothes that lights up the screen and are truly an art.

Director Craig Brewer (“Hustle and Flow”) has his finger on the pulse of both the hardscrabble setting and the rhythms of his subject matter. Brewer successfully connects the line between conveying the foolishness of Moore’s approach and efforts and paying respect to his ambitions and accomplishments.

Dolemite Is My Name is a splendid entertainment, but it’s wrapped around a very serious idea. How does anything of worth – a book or a business, a piece of music or a movie, ever get made?

Many creators had to finance their own art and use their own credit cards to make it. Or chose to creating microbudget films until they got their shot at glory.

Rudy Ray Moore put everything on the line to make a movie that might never have seen the light of day. But Dolemite lives. You can watch it today, laughing at its bold, ultra-fake violence, at Moore’s shaky amateur karate kicks, at the almost old-fashioned obviousness of its unjustified female nudity—it’s a given that its sexual politics are outmoded. But Dolemite’s “Hey, guys, let’s make a movie!” spirit should never go out of fashion. 

Dolemite Is My Name and Eddie Murphy’s performance in it are a celebration of that powerhouse vibe. It allows me to reconnect to my desire to go out and make something that would be my legacy and remain long after I’m gone.

Verdict – 5/5 Stars in my book

 

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