Dolemite Is My Name is Craig Brewer’s Netflix film about the later life of comedian, singer, actor, and film producer Rudy Ray Moore, during the period he launched his breakout character, Dolemite, leading to the creation of the blaxploitation film, Dolemite. Starring as Rudy is Eddie Murphy, who has really struggled with live action films since Dreamgirls in 2006. Thankfully though this is Eddie Murphy back in full force, not only giving a great performance, but in a good film as well. Dolemite Is My Name is a little reminiscent of The Disaster Artist in its dramatisation of the making of a cult film.
The problem that is holding Dolemite Is My Name back from being a truly great film is that Rudy never really has much of an arc during the film, he starts as someone determined to make it big and continues that through until he does. He rarely experiences any struggles in the film after he hits on the Dolemite idea incredibly early on, save for one moment of self doubt which is almost immediately overcome after about 5 minutes. For what is an incredible success story, this just makes it all feel rather conventional.
That said, the film is still a very entertaining watch, principally down to a very talented star. Eddie Murphy is garnering a huge amount of praise, and some outside awards buzz, for his role as Rudy/Dolemite, and quite rightly, this feels like the return of Eddie Murphy. From the embittered failed artist with a chip on his shoulder, to the rap comedy of Dolemite, Murphy is exceptional, and his performance alone makes Dolemite Is My Name a must watch. I also tremendously enjoyed Wesley Snipes’ turn as actor and director D’Urville Martin, who quickly comes to regret taking a part in Dolemite and spends the entire production making sassy and snide comments.
Dolemite Is My Name might not be the best film of the year, but it is a fun one, and the great cast, particularly Murphy, make it well worth a watch.