The Rudy Ray Moore biopic starring Eddie Murphy is as inspiring as the man himself.
After months of hype and anticipation, Netflix released Dolemite Is My Name on it’s streaming service at the end of October. The film had a decent festival run and limited release in theaters to help boost the film’s awards potential. The film focuses on Rudy Ray Moore’s (Eddie Murphy) journey from record store employee to fame as he creates the persona of Dolemite, records top selling records, and finally makes a film starring Dolemite. The film is directed by Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow), written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (Goosebumps), and also stars Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, and Wesley Snipes.
There are certain expectations of biopics, we know that we’ll see the ups and downs of the subject the film focuses on. That at some point in their journey to fame and glory they’ll hit their lowest point and wonder why they’re even trying. There are also usually some details that are exaggerated to help create a “better story.” Things that could easily be proven wrong, or that end up acting against what the person the film is about would have actually believed or done. At no point does Dolemite Is My Name feel like that kind of film. There are moments where Moore does in fact face dips in his journey, but overall it’s a continuous rise to fame.
The film somewhat subverts the idea of Moore facing pitfalls in his journey thanks to his constant optimism. Without going into spoiler territory, there’s a scene in the film where Moore sits alone in a place that has become his home, reciting lines for the upcoming film shoot. He’s then reminded of the times his father told him he’d never amount to anything. And while the setting he’s in isn’t glamourous, and he is in fact all alone, he knows that what he’s doing here is exactly what he always dreamed. Moore isn’t bothered by his current circumstances, he’s excited to be accomplishing his dreams no matter what form that takes. It’s beautiful, and inspiring, and is the epitome of what makes this film so fantastic.
Dolemite Is My Name is a hopeful and optimistic look at how being true to one’s self, and constantly working towards your dreams, can in fact bring about remarkable things. The film never demeans anything that Moore does, and it never demeans the life he has or the world he is part of. In many ways it does the same thing that Moore did as Dolemite. It gives us a look into this world that isn’t always shown on the silver screen and gives it value. It says, just because there are parts of this world that are significantly different from what you have seen before, doesn’t mean that they’re worth anything less. Greatness can come from anywhere and anyone, and it doesn’t matter where you were born or what you look like, you can do amazing things and find fantastic success.
The film is a rallying call to all those who dream the bigger so called impossible dreams. It’s a film that we need in a day and age where powerful white men try to constant stomp out those who are different. It’s a fun, smart, hilarious, and powerful film, where every single frame is worthy of your attention. Every aspect of the film is worthy of your attention, with a fantastic score by Scott Bomar, beautiful cinematography by Eric Steelberg, and amazing performances by Murphy, Snipes, and the entire ensemble. If there was any film that would be worthy of bringing Eddie Murphy back into the mainstream conversation, this is it. A film that celebrates a talented black man who never let anything stop him from becoming a success and following his dreams.
Dolemite Is My Name is currently streaming on Netflix.