Eddie Murphy “Dolemite is my name”, but is it the return that remains?

Eddie Murphy, If you’ve read a review, opinion piece or tweet about Eddie Murphy in the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard that the comedian was back. The New York Times, the Entertainment Weekly, the Daily Beast, and others have said so, and there is ample evidence to support this case.

Eddie Murphy "Dolemite is my name", but is it the return that remains?
Photo: Netflix ; Illustration: Dillen Phelps

This film, called Dolemite, is Murphy’s much-anticipated biopic about comedian Rudy Ray Moore, who currently holds 98 percent of rotten tomatoes and made his debut on Netflix today. There’s the fact that he will host the final of the Saturday Night Live season in December, that he will return to the show after three decades of avoidance, with the exception of a brief appearance in the 2015 40th Anniversary Special.

There is the following sequel to his 1988 hit romantic comedy, Coming to America, directed by Dolmite’s director, Is My Name, Craig Brewer. To make matters worse, Murphy is also back in the stand-up game: he signed an agreement with Netflix to launch a new special next year and will embark on a comedy tour in 2020.

I can not talk about what’s going to happen, but I can confirm that Murphy is very good at Dolemite Is My Name and surprising his fans. That Murphy is an excellent drama actor is not surprising, after all, he was nominated for a 2006 Dreamgirl Oscar, but those who know Moore and his 1975 film about Dolimite, Blaxploitation, may not expect not to such a direct and biographical film. soft.

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For those who did not know, Moore was a comedian, actor, and singer who struggled to enter the entertainment industry for half of his life. He finally gained fame by assuming an alter ego that he called Dolemite, a brutal and rhymed pimp who always rushed to call a person a “son of a bitch”. Dolemite, his first film on blaxploitation in 1975, was self-financing and ridiculously bad. Moore himself was a terrible actor and his self-taught kungfu skills are less credible. Poor quality is obviously part of the fun: it was a ridiculous, exaggerated and shrill film, perfect to watch drunk with friends, and it became very popular for that reason.

Despite Moore’s ridiculous character on screen, and despite Murphy’s own comic story, his rendition of Moore in Dolemite’s My Name (which he also produced) is serious, empathic, and generous. Writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski opt for a traditional biopic approach, so the film begins slowly. We know Moore as a record store owner and aspiring middle-aged singer, lamenting his lack of celebrity with his friends (played by Tituss Burgess, Craig Robinson and Mike Epps). He is inspired to act as a pimp named Dolemite by a homeless man who walks around his shop. When the labels tell him that the material is too obscene to sell, he sells the album in the back of his car.

The film finds its rhythm when Moore meets Lady Reed, performed with incredible charm and heart by Da’Vine Joy Randolph of Empire. Moore invites Lady Reed to join her act, recognizing a fiery talent in her, and Murphy and Randolph have an easy and relaxed chemistry. I would gladly see a comedy of friends dedicated to its dynamics. Finally, we come to the backstage filming of Dolemite, that most of the second half of Dolemite Is My Name is dedicated to recreation.

Here, Murphy comes alive. Su Moore is almost childish; dizzying to live his dreams in a film set, but with signs of vulnerability that seep into his famous bravado. A film producer informs Moore that he is “rougher” than most stars, and although he does not know, the words eat him clearly. In particular, he is eager to expose his instinct in a sex scene and asks Lady Reed for advice in a surprisingly tender way. Lady Reed advises her to play fun, and she does so by sleeping with her partner with such enthusiasm that she literally spills the ceiling of the room.

Murphy’s remarkable scene is one in which he is alone on an empty stage, repeating his aftershocks in the mirror of his improvised green room. Find a photo of his father as a sharecropper in the office and, instead of the emotional moment he could wait, Moore asks his father to leave. “I’m Dolemite,” the picture says. “Shit farmer.” Then he recites his “fuckers” of Dolemite with renewed anger in his voice. We understand that there is something dark and powerful about this man, powerful enough for a whole career to be born of nothing.