Movie Review – Dolemite Is My Name

TL;DR – A film that reveals in performances even as you sit almost in shock with what they are covering     

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Dolemite Is My Name. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Comebacks are such a difficult thing to pull off because they rarely work, especially when you jumping into a genre that you have not been in for an age. However, if you are you need to commit fully and today we get to see a film that does just that. Full with powerful performances even as you go “They did not just say that!”.  

So to set the scene, in the 1970s Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) is a failed record star who now spends his days working at a record store and his nights MCing at a local club. He wants to succeed but he has never had a break. Well one day when he is shoeing one of the local homeless men (Ron Cephas Jones) from the store, he listens to one of his stories and finds his moment, a comedy record. From there things take off for Rudy is now Dolemite and nobody be messing with him.

Dolemite Is My Name. Image Credit: Netflix.
I think this might be the most powerful performance I have seen from Eddie Murphy. Image Credit: Netflix.

Now right from there start there are three things that draw you in and the first is the acting and characters. I grew up in the era when Eddie Murphy was mostly known for his family-friendly comedy films. Even though this is not where he started there is this perception that I have just from history. So to see him dive into this really mature film was more of a big shock for me than those who know him from his 1980s work. But whatever era you know him from, nothing takes away from his sheer presence on the screen. In the opening moments of the film he captivates you by completely owns the character. He breathes, walks, and lives, the real-life character of Rudy, in a way you rarely see in biographical films. It is such a commanding performance that I would not be surprised to see Eddie’s name put into Oscar contention. This is because he captures every part of someone’s life, the highs and lows, sometimes there are entire conversations only shown in brief moments of emotion that speak volumes. Supporting Eddie is one of the best-supporting casts I have seen in suck a long time with everyone swinging for the fences. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a revelation as Lady/Queen Reed with such a commanding presence. This is a film where the cast and acting make every moment that bit more special.

The next thing that draws you in the setting and the commitment to it. The 1970s are such an evocative era in history and this film captures it in all its forms. The costuming, the hairstyling, the set design, location scouts, every part of the production team had to be on their a-game to make a film like this work and they were. This is important because they don’t just stay in one or two locations, the tour all over the place and they had to have that level of commitment in a small club in Alabama to the glitz in Hollywood. There is also the setting that comes from the storytelling, this film grounds itself in the political themes of its era and the struggles that were going on at the time and still to this day.

Dolemite Is My Name. Image Credit: Netflix.
Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a revelation as Lady/Queen Reed . Image Credit: Netflix.

All of this flows into the final thing that really makes this movie shine and that is the look behind the scenes at how films are made. Of course this is not the first film about making a film, indeed, Hollywood loves talking about itself so it is a common plot device. But here we see it as both a plot device in the film, a way to explore the character of Ruby, and also to explore Blaxploitation as a medium. It raises all kinds of issues light how to light people, the use of film, how the old camera’s worked, framing, angles, and well just about everything. It shows the highs and lows of production and uses this to propel the character’s motivations.               

In the end, do we recommend Dolemite Is My Name? Well, yes and no. I do need to say that this is a film that is rated R18 in Australia for a reason, so if you are not a fan of course/crude/vulgar language then this is not the film for you because much like the titular character they do not hold back for a moment. I personally didn’t mind it because it worked in the context of the film but you should know that before going in. So if you do not like films like that then we do not recommend this one to you. However, if you don’t mind that then I think you are going to find a film that is full of amazing performances and wonderful dives into the cinematic past.   

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Dolemite Is My Name?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
 


Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Dolemite Is My Name
Directed by
– Craig Brewer
Written by – Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski
Music by – Scott Bomar
Cinematography by – Eric Steelberg
Edited by – Billy Fox
Production/Distribution Companies – Davis Entertainment & Netflix
Starring – Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Wesley Snipes, Aleksandar Filimonović, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Chris Rock, Ron Cephas Jones, Luenell, Gerald Downey, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tommie Earl Jenkins, Bob Odenkirk & Snoop Dogg                
Rating – Australia: R18+;

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