Dolemite Is My Name

Dolemite Is My Name ★★★★

I’m a sucker for movies about making movies. There’s something about seeing the passion of the creative process reproduced on screen that just leaves me creatively energised. And appropriately enough, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, with its plot of a ragtag band grouping together to make a terrible film, reminded me a lot of 1999’s BOWFINGER, perhaps the last live action Eddie Murphy performance I loved. Here, though, we’re dealing with a true story, that of veteran entertainer and longtime hustler and grinder Rudy Ray Moore, who built himself up from struggling journeyman to star comedian to best selling musician and finally, his biggest challenge, movie star. And here, you could argue the film isn’t even bad, or at least the point it’s making is that those who dismiss it as bad don’t get it, as the film’s not for them.

Eddie Murphy has been on a cold streak lately, to put it mildly. It feels like it must have been a decade since he even had a high profile flop, and since then we haven’t really been talking about him much one way or the other. Well, here he makes a killer comeback, his best performance this century. He gives Moore flourishes of the ridiculous, but it never goes into total caricature, and never feels like it’s making fun of him. Instead, we like Rudy, and want him to succeed. So much of DOLEMITE IS MY NAME revolves around someone who has been told “No” his whole life having to bet on himself, risk everything based on the premise that he is right about his star quality and everyone who doubted him is wrong. For this arc to resonate, we have to like him. And as we see him start to thrive, turn more and more mad follies into improbable successes, it’s rousing, uplifting viewing. And it’s also very funny!