It's been a while since I last saw a film featuring Eddie Murphy that I enjoyed, or even cared enough to check out in the first place. I can't say that he's an actor that's only improved with age, given his entire career is a mixture of hits and flops.
Given such a diverse career, I wasn't sure what to expect of a new film with him taking on the lead role of the protagonist, Rudy Ray Moore, in a film about the rise of a comedian and his filmmaking debut. While I often love films about the world of filmmaking, this had me take the concept with low expectations and the assumption that what I was to go into would be mediocre at best. I can gladly say that I was quite wrong with that assumption.
A vast majority of the film is about the rise of Rudy Ray Moore in the 70s, his attempts to make it in comedy at a club, featuring various characters that just don't quite land and allow him to stand out among the rest. As well as the sources for his inspiration, and eventual creation of a pimp character with a rhythmic style and layer of depth to his jokes that spiral into their own little narratives.
This character spoke to those who had witnessed the culture first-hand, giving a larger voice to the small communities that were deemed as small-time and pointless in the eyes of money-hungry executives and studios. This is displayed throughout the film as we see Rudy's attempts to bring his character to larger audiences through the various forms of media: radio, vinyl, and the world of cinema. The constant rejections result in his decision to purely independent. Throwing out his own vinyls in his own stores, and eventually funding his own film production.
This is where the film takes a different note and we begin to see his successes, and even then they're met with constant rejections and poor luck. That isn't to say that the film takes on a serious tone, especially with Eddie Murphy at the front of the camera. These real moments are often split up with their own comedic moments, in which Rudy's personality displays the foundations of the pimp persona.
With the combination of comedy and serious tones, the film progresses nicely into its filmmaking second-half, where Rudy must fund and create his own feature film. Of course this is no easy task, and it results in many improvised shots and poor acting -- something that eventually results in the film's success among its target audience. The serious tone of the film they intend on making comes together to provide laughs and general idiocy alongside a character that seemingly is always serious.
Outside of the narrative, this is a film that pays homage to innovation and creativity. It pays home to a comedic style in the 70s that was born as a result of Rudy's refusal to accept rejection. That isn't to say that the film is entirely true to its roots, of course there's the typical Hollywood loose-portrayals and truth bending to form something for an actual audience and remain entertainment, but the pieces of truth we do get to see are a piece of history in the world of film itself.
It's strange to speak so well of something that came from Netflix, especially a comedy. But I'd be lying if I said this isn't a film worthy of your time. It does seem to come and go quite quickly, and it isn't particularly memorable, but it is good, and it is exactly what you'd expect of Eddie Murphy portraying a pimp.
Dolemite Is My Name is certainly an homage to a creative, but it's one that ensures it doesn't take itself too seriously, and remains wholesome in portraying Rudy as a lovable guy that just wants to spread the laughs and entertainment around, regardless of the amount of times he hears the word "no". It serves as a wonderful start to what led to a series of films that caused a huge impact on cinema and the way we see comedy within it.