October 21, 2019

SCREEN | Eddie Murphy Digs 'Dolemite Is My Name' on Netflix

"I want the world to know I exist."
Eddie Murphy Keegan-Michael Key Wesley Snipes Craig Brewer | Dolemite Is My Name Netflix

Hustle & Flow filmmaker Craig Brewer recreates the X-rated blaxploitation world of underground comedian Rudy Ray Moore, considered the "godfather of rap", alongside his famed Dolemite character and its feature film production in a joyously biographical film. Starring a vivacious and chunky Eddie Murphy as the entertainer and his larger-than-life alter ego, Dolemite Is My Name does justice to both Murphy as a performer and Moore as an iconic 1970s figure in African-American culture.

The ageless Murphy is entertaining as ever embodying the spirit and essence of Moore. The lately reserved comedian—this is first R-rated film in twenty years—isn't afraid of using his age and intentionally doughy, round figure to mine both energy and humour.

Biopic screenwriting specialists Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who very much mined the same type of period making a film material in the perfect Ed Wood, capture the spirit of Roy's legacy as a DIY guerilla artist and filmmaker. Brewer's uses both our familiarity and ignorance of the filmmaking process to recreate how a bunch of nobodies would make a film themselves is just all-around aces.

The sparkling cast of ensemble players including Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson, Mike Epps, Titus Burgess, and Wesley Snipes as Moore's cohorts and collaborators all make this historical world feel so vivid despite the ludicrous nature of their entertainment. They make for a ramshackle, makeshift family embarking on their own version of carnival barking.

Brewer and Murphy make Dolemite Is My Name such breezy, fun, and loving tribute to the work and legacy of Moore. By focusing on his life before his breakout fame in the black community, we see how he and others saw himself. Its deeply African-American themes are expressed so intensely without ever (ironically) explicitly making the film about race while recreating the self-seriousness of the original Dolemite so ridiculously.

Dolemite Is My Name screened at the Rio Theatre and is available to stream on Netflix starting October 25th.

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