Being a midwestern girl, we are often told to do certain things to maintain the decorum of being a lady. Don’t cuss. Keep your legs crossed. Don’t show too much skin or breasts. In my house, kids were warned not to play or look at the albums in the basement. One of those albums had a cover featuring naked women and a naked Dolemite. That was my introduction into the world of comedy on wax and Dolemite. So, when world got out that Eddie Murphy would be playing him in a feature for Netflix, I was chomping at the bit to see the finished product.
Eddie Murphy has nothing left to prove and has redefined comedy on television, film and the club circuit. He’s also proven over that he’s dedicated to shedding a spotlight on established, up and coming talent, as well as, paying homage to those who paved the way like Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby and Dolemite. Let’s be real. If there had not been a Dolemite many of the world’s most celebrated comics of color would literally be unknown, unpaid and under celebrated. Rudy Rae Moore paved the way proving that a little hard work, self-respect, confidence and creative marketing can turn your world upside down and change your life.
Dolemite Is My Name tells the story of Moore, a washed up vocalist and budding comedian working in a record store during the early 70’s Hollywood. After a neighborhood bum’s (Ron Cephas Jones) creatively embellished stories incite an AHA moment, Rudy creates Dolemite catapulting him from a record shop clerk to ghetto superstar with hit concert albums and movies grossing more than 100 million dollars. This is truly a full circle moment for Eddie Murphy, who in his early career was highly synonymous with the same colorful language that made Moore a household name. Murphy’s Rudy Ray Moore embraces the complexity of his gratuitous nature coupled with the defeat and brutal rejection of a business one has a made love affair with, not to mention embracing the violence and female nudity of blaxploitation cinema.
Wesley Snipes is deliciously vain as actor and Dolemite director D’Urville Martin. Keegan Michael-Key, Tituss Burgess, Luenell, T.I., Snoop Dogg, Mike Epps and Craig Robinson headline a stellar supporting cast, but it is Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Lady Reed holding her own with Murphy and being the only female cast member that is a standout. She layers this woman with gruff vulnerability coupled with the same sparkle that earned Randolph a Tony nom recreating Oda Mae Johnson for the stage version of the hit motion picture ‘Ghost.’
Ruth E. Carter’s eye-popping costumes take you right back to the outrageously glorious ’70s excess and the soundtrack will make you want to jump up and boogie down in the aisles. Directed by Craig Brewer, Dolemite Is My Name is campy, crazy and unapologetically Black just like the man who is now considered one of comedy’s greatest entertainers – Rudy Ray Moore.