Dolemite Is My Name ★★★★

“ Dolemite is my name and f**** up MF is my game.”

The perfect punchline of this film. Turn’t up from the first credit roll, you instantly know any movie that opens with a musical sucker punch of a 70s classic love track like Let’s Get It On and Snoop Dogg is bound to be kick ass or one MF crazy ride. An that over the top energy is just what this surprising Netflix dramedy film delivers in spades. Easily the funniest film of 2019. Dolemite Is My Name is unpredictable, wild, and totally unapologetic yet, inspiring blaxploitation film. It’s a comedy and musical extravaganza that drips funk and soul in every scene and effortlessly captures 70s black culture in the most candid fashion, highlighting a black era of original swagger culture: pimps, Don Juan’s, DJ’s, and every other iconic street creature under the sun.

This Eddie Murphy produced and starred vehicle starts out as simply a little niche drama about a failing black stand up comedian/musician and mostly a wannabe star, a man who dreams of doing incredible things and finds himself in a rut —a fitting theme that recalls Joker as of late, but containing nothing of its inherent darkness, except it’s heartbreaking believable moments of failure and disappointment.

“Say, man, do you think I want to work at a ghetto record store as a DJ? Sometimes our dreams just don’t come true.” ~Roj

It’s slowly builds, matching Murphy’s character Rudy Ray Moore’s emotional state and hopeless circumstances sprinkled with a few laughs, but with humor that may not initially translate or resonate with all audiences. 

But like the Little Engine that Could it soon turns into a film for the masses, emulating the spirit of the Disaster Artist and perhaps Tropic Thunder, but clearly does its own thing, as Rudy Ray Moore aka Dolemite tries to immortalize his name in the stars by producing his own film, but this is ten times more crass, adult x-rated, crazy, and fun than any similar film imagining that preceded it.

Whatever expectations you have just leave it at the door, because this is Rudy’s journey to greatness. And Dolemite Is My name doesn’t disappoint even if it kicks off somewhat slower, it always seems locked in high gear, radiating an energy that beautifully tells a hilarious and uplifting tale of perseverance and belief in one’s self against insurmountable odds. An it 
delivers one of Eddie Murphy’s best performances in ages. While also throwing in a smattering of comedic talent with its cast including the likes of Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, and Michael Key Keegan.

However, the best supporting performance and stunner of the year is no doubt Wesley Snipes, who’s lays out a comeback performance that could put others actors to shame, playing a high strung black actor during this black film renaissance of violence, sex, and over the top antics. It is one of the funniest characters I’ve seen since Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. While to say any more would just spoil the fun, but it’s definitely well worth the wait. As this film is filled with cameos and many good performances, including Kodi Smit McPhee. Dolemite is certainly perfect awards bait, but sadly the Oscars will probably overlook.

Although one shouldn’t be too surprised at the freshness and accuracy of this film at capturing a segment and period in not only film history, but black culture given it’s directed by Craig Brewer, the same director who delivered the remarkable and unique Hustle & Flow. The characters are very real yet exaggerated to full effect (yes people like this exist— I know them)  while it has plenty of endearing and uplifting moments too and shines the light on characters and actors who may not normally get so much screen attention and that is one of its most lovable and admirable qualities beyond its humor.

I knew nothing about this going in and beyond Quentin Tarantino I proclaim to no know next to nothing about this era outside of music. Nevertheless, this is the movie you never knew you needed or wanted. This Netflix feature crackles and pops, and pounds on the style and flair with a musical soundtrack that is as big and ostentatious, yet memorable as it’s characters and will make you want to dance (it’s quite groovy) or revisit the 70s. It’s a non stop riot, comedic laugh-a-thon until the last frame. One of the most quotable new movies of the decade. Not perfect by any measure, but slaps like nothing you’ve ever seen. To sum it up: “Yeah, lots of pimps, and wh*res, and cussing, and all of that sh*t. And kung fu, karate.” 

And in the words of JJ on Good Times: It’s Dynamite!— take it as you will. The best surprise of 2019. So entertaining a rewatch is absolutely necessary.

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