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#TIFF19 Review: Dolemite Is My Name (Special Presentations)

September 15, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) was a self-described entrepreneur and fledgling musician who worked in a record shop in the 1970s, when he decided to branch out into doing comedy records. Creating a flamboyant alter-ego named Dolemite, a foul-mouthed pimp who speaks in verse, Moore ended up becoming a massively successful comedian, paving the way for the production of his first film, a Blaxploitation movie called Dolemite, which was released in 1975 and became a sleeper hit.

The story of Rudy Ray Moore is told in Dolemite Is My Name, a biopic done right that mainly focuses on the ramshackle production of the film, which was made on a shoestring budget, delivering a mix of over the top action, humour and lots of sex, catered specifically to black audiences. Moore hires pretentious playwright Jerry Jones (Keegen-Michael Key) to help craft the screenplay, conceded background actor D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes) to act as director, and a white college kid named Nick to serve as cinematographer, shooting the film in an abandoned, rundown motel that they get for cheap.

Directed by Craig Brewer, working from a screenplay by Ed Wood writers Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander, Dolemite Is My Name is a hilarious and wildly entertaining movie that features a bravura performance from Murphy, delivering one hell of a comeback. The film also boasts solid work by cinematographer Eric Steelberg, who does a good job of capturing the look and feel of the ’70s, and appealing costumes designed by the great Ruth E. Carter. Moreover, Dolemite Is My Name functions as an inspiring ode to never giving up on your dreams and creating opportunities for yourself when others don’t give you a chance. It’s a blast to watch, and the whole audience laughed and clapped throughout.

Public Screenings:

Saturday, September 7th – 9:30 PM at Princess of Wales

Sunday, September 8th – 12:00 PM at Princess of Wales

Saturday, September 14th – 5:30 PM at Elgin Theatre

Sunday, September 15th – 12:00 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

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