(US - 2019)
Directed by Craig Brewer. Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. Cast: Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Snoop Dogg, Ron Cephas Jones, Barry Shabaka Henley, Tip "T.I." Harris, Luenell, Tasha Smith, Bob Odenkirk, Chris Rock, Aleksandar Filimonovic, Ivo Nandi, Michael Peter Bolus, Kazy Tauginas, Baker Chase Powell. (R, 118 mins)
Amidst all the NORBITs and PLUTO NASHes that came down the pike, along with all the forgettable comedies like HOLY MAN, MEET DAVE, and IMAGINE THAT that litter his IMDb page, we need to be reminded every few years of what an incredible talent Eddie Murphy has been for nearly 40 (!) years. We all remember the unstoppable force that took over a floundering SNL in 1980 and became a box-office giant for the rest of the decade with 48 HRS, TRADING PLACES, BEVERLY HILLS COP, and COMING TO AMERICA. He stumbled in the early '90s (BEVERLY HILLS COP III, VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN) and came back with THE NUTTY PROFESSOR and BOWFINGER, then reinvented himself as a family comedy guy with DR. DOLITTLE and DADDY DAY CARE before finding a whole new generation of fans as the voice of Donkey in the SHREK movies. Then came some more bad movies before his performance as James "Thunder" Early in 2006's DREAMGIRLS earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. But the career resurgence didn't happen--leaving the Oscar ceremony in a huff after he lost to Alan Arkin in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE probably wasn't a good look--and his film appearances since have been sporadic. The Eddie Murphy of old made a welcome return in the underrated 2011 Ben Stiller ensemble comedy TOWER HEIST, but then he was offscreen (not counting 2012's A THOUSAND WORDS, which was gathering dust on the shelf since 2008) for another five years, resurfacing in Bruce Beresford's barely-released MR. CHURCH, which offered a top-notch dramatic performance by Murphy in an otherwise mediocre film.
DOLEMITE (a major influence on BLACK DYNAMITE). The screenwriting team of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski follow their ED WOOD template with Moore presented as a persistent, can-do dreamer whose ambitions in the entertainment industry stretch far beyond the capacity of his ability, yet he nevertheless corrals a rag-tag crew of skeptical but loyal friends and associates who are won over by his infectious spirit and personality. Unsuccessfully selling himself as a "total entertainment experience," his music and comedy careers have stalled and he's depressed that it's 1970 and all he's got in his life is his job as an assistant manager at Dolphin's Record Store in L.A. Moore finally finds some inspiration in listening to some homeless guys tell ridiculous stories of a badass, rhyme-busting pimp named "Dolemite." He works their stories into his own act, assuming the role of Dolemite and testing the character at a local nightclub. It gets a raucous response, and he borrows $250 from his aunt (Luenell) to record a live, X-rated, Redd Foxx-esque comedy album in his living room and then selling copies out of the trunk of his car. The Dolemite character soon finds a cult following and Moore takes the act on the road, with a record company eventually picking up his album (the not-very-subtly titled Eat Out More Often), and having him record several more. Emboldened by his newfound fame, Moore decides to take Dolemite to the next level, envisioning a big-screen movie along the lines of SHAFT and BLACK CAESAR.
incompetent) moments, with "director" Martin more or less presented as a screwdriver-swilling drunk who's only there to mumble "Action" and "Cut" while Moore essentially takes control of the production.
|"Dolemite is my name and fuckin' up motherfuckers is my game!"
Rudy Ray Moore (1927-2008)