Sunday, November 24, 2019

Movie with Abe: Dolemite Is My Name

Dolemite Is My Name
Directed by Craig Brewer
Released October 4, 2019

When people go to the movies, they expect a polished, finished product that looks and sounds good. Stories may emerge either during or after casting, filming, or release that more went on behind the scenes than casual viewers may realize, and often that’s to the detriment of the overall experience since it reveals problems that may have hindered and nearly undone the whole process. In rare cases, looking at the ragtag efforts taken on by those who are woefully unfamiliar with how to make a film can be extraordinarily entertaining and, more importantly, offer wondrous insight into who those people are or were.

Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) works at a record store during the day and as an enthusiastic MC at a club at night in 1970s Los Angeles. He yearns to get into comedy but is told that he doesn’t have what it takes. When he takes the time to listen to the ramblings of homeless man (Ron Cephas Jones) who comes into the store, he realizes that what he’s staying is all in rhyme and quite hilarious. Moore writes it down and adds his own style to the delivery, creating the personality of Dolemite, which wows on stage. After recording his first comedy album that he sells out of the trunk of his car, Moore is inspired to hire a few professionals and a handful of friends to make a movie that showcases the best of the foul-mouthed, over-the-top, inimitable Dolemite.

This film is fun more than anything else, putting a true story on the screen in the most enjoyable and watchable way possible. From the first moment Moore is introduced, it’s clear that he has a passion that hasn’t yet been realized. When he harnesses the character of Dolemite, he emerges as a marvelous master of ceremonies for this movie, eagerly guiding audiences through the story of his life, full of obstacles and peppered with glorious and unexpected successes. It’s easy to get behind Moore and Dolemite, two people who are distinct from one another but share the same body.

Thirteen years ago, it looked like comedian Murphy was finally making a serious movie that could win him an Oscar and also allowed him to sing, “Dreamgirls.” Now, he’s done it again, with a formidable lead performance that shows commitment and creativity. He’s supported by a fantastic array of talent, including Da’Vine Joy Randolph as a costar, Tituss Burgess as a coworker, and Wesley Snipes as a Hollywood actor not immediately inclined to be associated with this upstart. This film from Craig Brewer, who made “Hustle and Flow,” is another very worthwhile look at an artist who had an uphill climb to achieve fame that was filled with energy and style, decorated and costumed appropriately for an immersive and celebratory portrait.


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