“Dolemite is my name and fucking up motherfuckers is my game!” Is a line that reigns true as Eddie Murphy makes a triumphant return to comedy by portraying the legendary comedian, Rudy Ray Moore, in the 2019 Netflix film, “Dolemite Is My Name.” The film had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7th of this year and later to Netflix on October 25. It’s absolute perfection and with the making of the biopic, no one else could ever do this part justice as much as Murphy did. He has been wanting for years to pay homage to Moore, even before Moore’s passing in 2008. After 20 years of being away from R-rated films, since “Life” in 1999, Murphy reminds everyone that his effervescence has not diminished with his time away, it’s been reignited and is more powerful than ever.
The film is a biographical comedy about Moore’s process of creating the iconic character, Dolemite. He forms the character from the Afro-American Folklore, “The Signifying Monkey” told by homeless men in the neighborhood though he channels that into his own. Moore uses his wit, savvy, heart, determination, and vivacious comical effort to push forward and become the star he was destined to be. This is more than the run of the mill underdog story where the protagonist would usually get knocked out in the midst of the film, have their internal or external conflict and have their come back at the end. “Dolemite Is My Name” goes through Moore’s countless rejections time after time and every single time he comes back in his own tenacious way.
The film actually goes through a five-year journey, but it all seems compressed as if it were just a year. From the inception of his smash comedy album which escalated him to fame, “Eat Out More Often” (1970) to the production and premiere his first feature film, “Dolemite,” in 1975. Along with the help and support of the dynamic ensemble that consist of: Theodore Toney (Tituss Burgess), Jimmy Lynch (Mike Epps), Jerry Jones (Keegan-Michael Key), Lady Reed (Da’Vine Joy Rand), Ben Taylor (Craig Robinson), and D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes). In its two-hour span, the audience builds a relation with Moore and gets to know him on a deeper intimate level beyond the scope of him being a comedian and there are so many layers to his humanity. We begin to understand that from his perspective that no aspiration is ever too small or too big to be pursued. The path we choose is a matter of heart and belief that can be harnessed without the say of anyone else who does not understand you. Will you ever be contempt with the dreams you hold? Is there even a limit to our self-worth?
Every single frame Murphy graces, is held with such grandeur and prowess that you become awestruck with his tribute. I found that Murphy’s characterization was different from any other movie he’s produced. He gives such life and love to his performance. It lifts you. That’s what makes it special, he completely embodies Moore’s spirit. It is much different than his numerous comedic performances. Along with his more dramatic roles such as, Jimmy “Thunder” Early from “Dreamgirls” (2006) and Henry Joseph Church from “Mr. Church” (2016), there is much more of a shift in tone and Murphy’s growth within his soul.
Ever since his childhood, Moore has overcome the odds. He bounced back and found his way from being told ‘no’. He was an extraordinary visonarre, comedian, and known to be the Godfather of Rap. Not only persuasive and passionate, but he always stayed true to his spirit. “Dolemite Is My Name” explores that to revel in the greatness, no one else can push you in the direction you are meant for, no matter how late in life you may seem. Moore never waited and every opportunity he had to succeed, he created for himself. What you’ll learn is that when it seems the whole world is against you, always push back harder. You put some weight on it.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment