Dolemite Is My Name ★★★★

In a lot of ways, this is basically the same movie as The Disaster Artist. We have an amiable oddball who bucks the Hollywood system to craft their own bonkers art. The movies are distinguished in the details however. While The Disaster Artist comes from a place of appreciation for bad cinema and The Room itself, Dolemite Is My Name is far more interested in protagonist Rudy Ray Moore than the actual Dolemite movie.

Later dubbed the "godfather of rap" for his rhythmic comedic stylings, Moore is a fascinating iconoclast. The casting here (Eddie Murphy) is beyond perfect. Murphy, alive in a role for the first time since he lost the Oscar for Dreamgirls, tears into the material. Eddie's immense natural charisma enlivens Moore's stand-up in a way that I'm not sure any other actor could manage. There's an amiability to his performance that covers over a bit of fundamental sadness that emanates from the character. It's remarkably textured work in what could easily be a broad Bowfinger-style caricature performance. Perhaps more impressive is Wesley Snipes. I cannot say he's ever done much for me as an actor. He can be a winning action presence in films like Blade, but not much of a serious actor. Here he is nothing short of a revelation. Playing a studio character actor (he was in Rosemary's Baby, you know!), Snipes digs into the role as the "serious actor" on set who takes the job in part because he is promised the chance to direct. His boundless frustration with Murphy's Moore is mined to immense comedic effect. Snipes too, like Murphy, manages to keep his performance in a human key despite a role that could easily go too broad. The epic supporting cast, particularly Keegan-Michael Key and Da'Vine Joy Randolph, is uniformly excellent. Craig Brewer manages to nail a particular fun, amiable tone somewhat at odds with his usual work.

It really shows Netflix's growing potency in the industry that this is merely one of their second tier releases this year. It's a damn fine movie with an excellent cast.

2019: First to Worst