Eddie Murphy, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, and a host of others star in a story about the making of an amazing film.
It’s the 1970s and singer/comedian Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) is not having the career renaissance he’d been hoping for. However, after a homeless man named Ricco (Ron Cephas Jones) comes into the record store at which he works, Moore is inspired by the man’s ridiculous stories about a man named Dolemite. Moore adopts the name and turns it into a character with which he delivers a vulgar profanity-laden comedy routine. He manages to make a series of albums out of the character and goes on tour, achieving cult status. However, he eventually decides to make a film out of the character and, together with his partner Lady Reed (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), writer Jerry Jones (Keegan-Michael Key), and Actor/Director D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes), he makes the amazing movie Dolemite.
So, if you haven’t seen Dolemite, you should. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what kind of movies your into. If you haven’t seen Dolemite, you need to go ahead and enrich your life. It’s on Amazon Prime right now. Then, you need to go ahead and watch the sequel, The Human Tornado, in order to see the infamous sex scene in which Dolemite’s manhood literally destroys a house. But first thing’s first: You need to watch this movie.
Dolemite is a rare kind of a so-bad-its-good movie, but it’s not in the class of a film like The Room or Troll 2. You can watch Dolemite and get a perfect mix of legitimate and ironic enjoyment, because the movie is supposed to be a comedy that is shot like an action film. If you’re laughing, whether you’re laughing at it or with it, it’s working. It’s hard to tell where the film was failing at being legitimate or was succeeding in being a parody. This film seems to suggest it was a blend of lack of ability and a huge amount of talent.
Much like The Disaster Artist, this movie contains a lot of scenes that explain how certain things came into the film. While I don’t think that Eddie Murphy’s portrayal of Rudy Ray Moore is as spot-on as James Franco’s portrayal of Tommy Wiseau, Murphy manages to absolutely nail the timing of the comedy routines. Given that Murphy apparently did this because he and his late brother Charlie Murphy used to love listening to Moore’s albums, I’m guessing it’s because he had heard them all during his formative years. As a world-class comedian himself, it’s natural that he’d be able to figure out how all of the ridiculous inflections enhance the Dolemite character and make it his own. His version of Dolemite isn’t exactly Moore’s, but it’s damned good.
This movie is a true story of someone managing to get their big break at the risk of losing everything, and that’s really something that audiences love. What’s interesting is that this isn’t portrayed as being an endeavour by a comedian who is looking for the pure art of it. No, from the first part of the movie this is just the story of Moore’s attempt to become rich and famous. The honesty is somewhat refreshing, because a lot of movies try to portray famous people solely as passionate virtuosos sustained by their creative juices. In reality, even great artists usually sell out at some point, because… well, people gotta eat, man. Plus, if you believe in your art, you want fame, because that means people are actually seeing it. Does it sometimes ruin the “purity” of the art? Maybe if it causes the artist to compromise their vision, but most of the time even great art is done for the money.
I really did enjoy the hell out of this movie. I’m not sure how accurate it is, and since they include a scene from the sequel in the film I am guessing “not very,” but I know that it tells a heck of a story.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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