Netflix has produced so many original movies, but few of them stick. Aside from Roma, Always Be My Maybe and a couple of others, many of those movies roll by like a tumbleweed in the desert. Fortunately, it’s latest one, Dolemite Is My Name, is not one of them. The film is a comedic story of how a struggling Rudy Ray Moore became the Blaxploitation icon, Dolemite.
Dolemite Is My Name allows Eddie Murphy to showcase his talent as a larger-than-life personality that we haven’t seen since Coming to America. Sure movies like The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion, and Tower Heist is a few of his failures of the last decade. However, the energy and talent on display as Dolemite reminds us of the Eddie Murphy we grew up loving with in Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hours, Trading Places, and especially Coming to America.
On a script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the film is more serious than the film they created. Moore isn’t portrayed as an artist or someone that has been given a lot of bad breaks. He is a man that is determined to achieve his dream as an icon. While the movie quickly moves us to the making of this original film, Dolemite, it seems that it could have spent a bit more time in showing us the life that Moore was living, which could’ve given us more of the true character.
That isn’t to say that Murphy doesn’t shine bright enough, but the duality between Moore and his alter ego is deeper than Bruce Wayne to Batman. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a standout as Lady Reed. Her introduction to the film is probably one of the best I have seen in a long time. Everything you needed to know about her character happens in that few movements. She conveyed her character in a couple of physical, non- dialogue, moments than Tom Hanks did with his monologue at the beginning of Bridge of Spies.
Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, and Titus Burgess round out the cast. Aside from Randolph, Wesley Snipes’ D’Urville Martin is a treasure on screen. His performance took me back to a time when he wasn’t trying to be an action star. It reminded me of films like To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and Major League. His over-the-top performance reminded me just how intentionally funny he can be. Not unintentionally in movies like Drop Zone and The Art of War.
There are some great cameos in this film, including one that I didn’t see coming a mile away. Dolemite is My Name is one of those movies that is fun for the nearly two hour runtime. It definitely isn’t for people sensitive to the f-bombs or nudity. However, seeing the moments Murphy plays between reliving his childhood demons, insecurities, and his alter-ego is well worth the time spent on it.