Dolemite Is My Name

Eddie Murphy turns in an exceptional performance in this biopic of Rudy Ray Moore, the 1970’s comedian who created alter ego, brash obscene pimp Dolemite, which lauched his successes and led to him being a Blaxploitation film star. Murphy is absolutely perfect in the role, never taking Moore aka Dolemite too far as to be off putting, instead solidly grounding the character in an earnest yearning for success. Da’Vine Joy Randolph nearly steals the show from Murphy in her turn as Lady Reed, like Murphy, turning in such a well-balanced performance of a character who could be cartoonish played by a lesser actress. Snoop Dogg makes a fun appearance as a DJ, but watch out for newcomer Aleksandar Filimonovic in a small role as a record exec. He steals scenes and is likely going to do great things. Lesser performances are turned in by Wesley Snipes and Keegan Michael Key. Snipes almost seems to be trying to reprise his drag queen Noxeema Jackson in To Wong Foo, but here it falls flat and the character doesn’t feel flushed out. Key just can’t seem to pull off straight acting yet, this is a serious character, but one gets the sense that Jordan Peele will appear shortly and you’ll get the joke. The script sags a bit in the middle as one isn’t sure if this is about to become a 1970’s black Disaster Artist, but the lighting, art direction, and the fantastic costumes carry the scenes where the writing doesn’t. Ruth E Carter again shows her amazing versatility as a costume designer coming off of Black Panther and into Dolemite; she was absolutely robbed of an Oscar nomination. Unlike so many films now, Dolemite has real heart and just like the film within the film, you’re rooting for it to win even at its weak points. See it for all the reasons.

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