Netflix Dolemite Is My Name Movie Review: The Movie Sees Eddie Murphy at His Raciest

Netflix Dolemite Is My Name Movie Review: The Movie Sees Eddie Murphy at His Raciest

Netflix Dolemite Is My Name Movie Review: How does Eddie Murphy fare in this film that is touted as his comeback? Read on…
Netflix Dolemite Is My Name Movie Review: The Movie Sees Eddie Murphy at His Raciest
Dolemite Is My Name
Movie NameDolemite Is My Name
DirectorCraig Brewer
ActorEddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key
Ratings

Rating: *** (three stars)

Why is  this film about a raunchy  stand-up comedian being touted as  Eddie Murphy’s comeback? An outstanding comic  talent such as he doesn’t go away. And even if we are looking at dates, Murphy  was  in much finer form  in his  last release Mr Church where he brought to  great use his  penchant for wry  social comment into  play.

There is  more foreplay in Murphy’s portrayal of  the  foul-mouthed stand-up comedian Rudy Ray More (a.k.a Dolemite) than any actual swipes at  salaciousness. Sure, there is  a lot of abusive language  and  cuss words  in  ‘Dolemite’ Eddie Murphy’s stand-up act that shocked America in  the 1970s.But nothing that  they back then, and we now, can’t handle.

We’ve seen worse. What  really provides this film about a rebel with a clause with its  share of heft is the theme  of segregation and racial discrimination, both  placed on their head in a comic  overview of a  society  coming to terms with the mainstream  presence  of its black population. Refusing to  see himself as victim of racism Murphy’s  Dolomite is the antidote  to the  The Color Purple  and  12 Years A  Slave genre  of  cinema  about the sufferings  of  the black community.

There are slanted  references to the  ‘blacksploitation’ cinema  of  the 1970s starring Billy Dee Williams and Richard Roundtree, the  macho cinema of the era catering  specially to  the Black American audience.

The best sequence in the film has Eddie Murphy and his (all-black) team  watching  the Jack Lemmon-Walter Matthau comedy The Front Page with an  all-white audience and wondering what they find so funny.

The droll disregard for political  correctness  that Dolomite  projected  in his  risqué  humour is  expertly  subsumed  in the  screenplay and is  employed  to  celebrate  a  subversive  but non-toxic culture  of  protest. All the actors , black and some  white, are  a  hoot. Eddie Murphy,  a  fine  blend  of satire and ribaldry here has great fun  letting his  tongue  loose  all over  the  colourful material. He is  specially  hilarious in a sequence where he drops  his pants to show  record-company  owners what the cover of his  next album would be like.

There are umpteen opportunities in  the script  for Murphy to rise  to the occasion. He  stands unfazed  . Another brilliant  performance comes  from Wesley Snipes as  a small-time actor from Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby  who  gets a  chance to direct Dolomite in the latter’s movie debut. Snipes’ reactions as Murphy directs himself are priceless.

There are some brilliantly written characters  hovering in the fringes, like the playwright Jerry (brilliantly played by  Keegan Michael-Key) and the female stand-up comedian Lady Reed (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) who give Eddie’s Dolomite tit for tat.

While being a vehicle to exploit Eddie Murphy’s vast resources of chuckle-inducing social satire (if Jane Austen were  a male black American!) the film ably deconstructs the lives of the other characters all trying to be non-representational  black people without feeling  persecuted .

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