Move over Hugh Jackman, Rudy Ray Moore is more deserving of the title Greatest Showman.
Moore's story of becoming a self-made showman is detailed in "Dolemite is My Name." Produced by Netflix, which is now streaming the feature, the film stars Eddie Murphy as Rudy, who at the start of the movie is struggling to make a name for himself. His music career hasn't exactly taken off, so Rudy begins looking for other avenues to stardom.
Eventually, Rudy is able to find success as a stand-up comedian, where he dons the persona Dolemite and delivers his humor by way of rhymes. With the set becoming a hit, Rudy decides to set his sights to the next level entertainment: movies. When he's turned down by several studios, though, Rudy and his crew of friends and talent he hires opt to make their own film.
Like Rudy himself, this movie takes some time to find its footing and gain traction. The first act, showcasing Moore's journey from working at a record store to becoming a fairly marketable comedian, is enough of a hook to hold one's interest, but for a while the film just feels like a fairly standard biopic.
However, once the film gets into the second and third act, especially when production on the 1975 movie "Dolemite" gets underway, the production reaches a whole other level. Watching this ragtag group of amateur filmmakers come together and push forward through the difficulties of making a movie is compelling, endearing, and also quite funny.
"Dolemite" was very much a B-movie level "Blacksploitation" action comedy, and the over-the-top nature of the genre comes through in the filmmaking process, producing a lot of laughs in this biopic. Yet what comes through even more than the fun of making such an over-the-top movie is the heart and energy Rudy and his crew put into the production.
There's an overwhelming charm that comes from watching them work through technical difficulties and scrap together what they need to finish the movie. All of them are very committed to the cause and it comes through.
What really helps this shine through is the phenomenal cast. A lot of praise of course has to go to the man playing the main character, Eddie Murphy. This was easily Murphy's best role in years and he deserves accolades for his work.
Murphy is able to portray Moore's exaggerated character and convincingly becomes the showman when needed. At the same time, he's also really great when he needs to portray Moore as just a man trying to make his way in the world.
The movie absolutely shines in its supporting cast, too. Wesley Snipes is brilliant as D'Urville Martin, who was the director of "Dolemite" and wanted the production to be more professional. Rounding out the cast are Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson and Da'Vine Joy Randolph.
Many of these performers bring experience from previous funny movies and it shows with their comedic timing. Yet they're able to handle much of the heavier moments, too.
"Dolemite is my Name" isn't a perfect feature, as it doesn't really hit its stride until the second act and the film somewhat lacks a major conflict. However, this was still a really fun movie and can make an audience appreciate the effort it takes to make art. 4 out of 5.