Dolemite Is My Name ★★★½

Films-about-films are a tricky area to handle, in that the general premise of the source film must be interesting-enough to warrant a whole film about it. Even more-so if the outer-film is not a typical documentary but something as ambitious as a biopic like this considering you need actors, production design, costuming, basically everything else that goes into a normal movie.

Biopics are also another difficult genre to navigate considering they can often take on a cut-and-dry approach to their retelling and many fall into the trap of simply being glorified Wikipedia entries; many often might be more accurate and informative being simple documentaries. But by being a narrative work these require more effort: you want style and individuality in these films, but also in ways that complement the material being re-told.

So Dolemite Is My Name takes the challenge of combining both of these niches into one film, a biopic film-about-a-film that threatens to veer into potentially mundane territory on paper but ends up being just as magnetic and comical as the source film itself. It ends up feeling like a post-blaxploitation film by unavoidably hitting many of the same genre notes as actual blaxploitation but with a much different context and aim as the others, and though this may not have the same unadulterated campy goodness of those 70s films, it provides a new type of feel-good cheese.

"Is there any angle that you could shoot this, where it looks like he's actually kicking him?"

"There is no such angle."

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