REVIEW: DOLEMITE IS MY NAME is an enjoyable Ed Wood style dive into the world of blaxploitation films with a charismatic performance from Eddie Murphy at its heart.


Eddie Murphy’s compelling turn as 70’s comedian Rudy Ray Moore is the spark of life at the center of this DISASTER ARTIST inspired dive into the world behind Moore’s persona and the making of 1975’s Dolemite.

There’s something alluring about exploring film subculture. From the fandom behind The Rocky Horror Picture Show to the early 2000’s phenomenon of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, there’s a certain mystique about seeing how certain fan circles develop and how the films that inspired them got made. 2017’s The Disaster Artist showcased the world of Tommy Wiseau and The Room and how his unlikely friendship with actor Greg Sestero led to the making of The Room. This was ground also mined by Tim Burton in 1994 when he made Ed Wood, exploring the uniquely bizarre life of filmmaker Ed Wood and how that led to the production of his infamous cult classic film Plan 9 From Outer Space. There’s something really intriguing and inspiring in seeing a niche filmmaker raise the funds and friends needed to make their passion projects happen. DOLEMITE IS MY NAME takes that point of view and aims it at the birth of the blaxploitation genre in the 1970s as it explores the rise of nightclub comedian Rudy Ray Moore from cult phenomenon comedian to big-screen icon.

DOLEMITE IS MY NAME follows nightclub comic Moore (Eddie Murphy), a down on his luck record store clerk who dreams of fame, whether as a singer, comic, dancer, or what fate might throw at him. It’s while throwing out a local hobo who spits out a patois of rhymed lines singing the praises of a mythical badass named Dolemite, that Moore becomes enamored with the idea of turning the wisdom of the liquored wisemen into a new nightclub persona called Dolemite. The new persona is a hit, and before long, he gets an offer to record a new album after a self-produced comedy album he starts peddling becomes the talk of the town. Not long after, Ruddy and his friends spend Christmas watching a movie to celebrate their success, but the film they see doesn’t speak to their experience or humor. Rudy becomes convinced that the only way to really reach the heights of fame he wants and deserves is to produce a Dolemite movie; one that he intends to make himself if no one will help him do it.

The film works because we get the Eddie Murphy you love from the 1980’s back in full force. An engaged Murphy delivers an enthralling and charismatic performance as Moore that would convince you of why someone with his magnetism could influence the worlds of rap and comedy years after his passing. The film is also filled with compelling performances by actors from all strands of comedy. From Tituss Burgess to Craig Robinson and Keegan Michael Key, the rich ensemble assembled in the film really makes the story come to life. Wesley Snipes shines in a comedic turn as blaxploitation actor D’urville Martin. But its ultimately Murphy’s performance as Rudy Ray Moore that makes the film come alive. Much in the vein of Ed Wood, Murphy makes this lead character from an obscure circle of films seem radiant and relatable because of his passion for film and self-belief.

DOLEMITE IS MY NAME succeeds in giving us the Eddie Murphy of old in a compelling film that celebrates the past that inspired Murphy as a comedian. That alone should inspire a viewing, but its the great performances throughout and engaging nature of the biopic that make it work.