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Regardless of how you feel about 1975’s Dolemite, you’ll likely get swept up in Craig Brewer’s joyous, upbeat ode to its creator Rudy Ray Moore, Dolemite Is My Name. A film in the vein of “Let’s put on a show!” celebrations like Ed Wood (which shares Dolemite Is My Name’s writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski) and The Disaster Artist, Brewer avoids trying to paint a complex portrait of Moore and instead heralds him as a dogged, relentless dreamer who didn’t want to let anything stand in his way. Sure, it’s a little simple, but why should this blaxsploitation icon be denied his due? The biopic is a labor of love about an entertainer whose work was a labor of love. Yes, Moore wanted to be famous and successful, but he bets on himself and connects to black audiences. Both Moore and Dolemite become icons, and with Eddie Murphy giving a lively and memorable performance at the center, we can’t help but fall in love with this legend.
Beginning in the early 70s, we follow record store assistant manager Rudy Ray Moore (Murphy) struggling to break through as an entertainer any way he can. None of his previous characters or acts have taken off, but after picking up some inspiration from jokes and tales from the hobo community, Rudy seizes on the character of Dolemite, a rhyming pimp with no shortage of punchlines. The film tracks how Rudy relentlessly bets on himself because the entertainment gatekeepers don’t understand or won’t allow his comedy. When he needs to manufacture and sell his own comedy album, he does it. When it gets the idea to make a Dolemite movie, he cobbles together everyone he knows and invests every dollar to make it a reality. It doesn’t matter whether or not Dolemite is good...
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