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Film / Dolemite Is My Name

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Dolemite is My Name is a 2019 comedic biopic directed by Craig Brewer and written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. It stars Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore, the comedian and rapper who broke out into the world of blaxploitation with his character of Dolemite, a fast-talking, Kung Fu fighting pimp.

The movie depicts a Dramatizatied version of Moore's early career, starting in 1970s Los Angeles, where Moore is a struggling stand-up comedian and singer, who works in a record store to make ends meet and tries to get his music on the air in the in-store radio station. But one day, a homeless man named Ricco (Ron Cephas Jones) comes wandering into the record when Moore is working his shift, and proceeds to speak in rhymes as he tells stories of a pimp called "Dolemite". Intrigued by this, Moore plies Ricco with cash and booze for more and more tall tales and eventually gets the idea to create a stage persona telling these stories as a part of his stand-up routine. Dressing in colorful pimp attire and brandishing a cane, Moore takes the stage at the club under the persona of Dolemite, to great reception by the audience, and thus begins Moore's career in showbiz in earnest as he sets out in the attempt to prove his naysayers wrong.

The movie also stars Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Mike Epps, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph. It was released on Netflix on October 25 after a brief run in theaters. The trailer can be seen here.

Tropes Associated With Dolemite is My Name include:

  • Abusive Parents: Rudy states that his father used to hit him a lot. When rehearsing his lines for the film, Rudy channels a lot of his anger towards his father into those lines.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • The opening titles song "Thank You (Falletin Me Be Mice Elf)" was previously sung by Eddie Murphy himself, in character as Donkey, in the closing credits of Shrek the Third.
    • Rudy's insecurity about his weight feels an awful lot like Sherman's dilemma in The Nutty Professor.
    • Rudy's aunt expects his comedy to be family-friendly like Bill Cosby's. Murphy made a comparison between Cosby's G-rated image and his own (much raunchier) comedy in his standup special, Raw.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: The filming of the Destructo-Nookie scene for the Dolemite movie goes on for so long and reaches such absurd levels that when it finally climaxes the entire cast and crew break out into a fit of laughter. Even the director D'Urville Martin, who's barely been able to hide his contempt for the enitre project, begrudgingly admits that it was funny.
  • Artistic License – Film Production: The movie plays fast and loose with how the production of Dolemite is portrayed for the sake of pacing and Rule of Funny.
    • Scenes from both Dolemite and The Human Tornado are depicted as being filmed and edited into a single movie.
    • The entire process of post-production is skipped in favor of Moore looking for distributors, the film already complete by that point.
  • Author Appeal: In-universe, the cast playfully accuses Rudy of this regarding his sex scene with a white woman. In actuality he's actually very anxious and insecure about it.
  • Brick Joke: In the first scene, Rudy Ray Moore tried to get the DJ at the record store where he works to play one of his R&B records and is rejected. Later, when he returns to the store after becoming a success, he asks the DJ in-character as Dolemite to play one of "his" records, and the DJ proceeds to play one of Moore's old R&B records as a joke.
  • The Cameo: Snoop Dogg and Chris Rock as DJs, Ron Cephas Jones as the hobo who gives Rudy the inspiration for Dolemite, T.I. as a film executive who turns down the movie, and Bob Odenkirk as the head of Dimension Pictures who releases the movie nationwide.
  • Casting Gag: Wesley Snipes as the haughty and arrogant D'Urville Martin, an actor who's only been getting small roles in recent times.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Rudy Ray Moore was famous for his use of profanity, and this movie indulges it to a tee.
  • The Comically Serious: D'Urville Martin. After finishing his scenes, he tells Rudy's filming crew that he has absolutely no confidence in Dolemite ever being a successful film, and he hopes never to work with them again... all the while his fake entrails are hanging out from Rudy pulling them out in the fight scene between Dolemite and Willie Green.
  • Culture Clash: Moore and his friends watch The Front Page in a theater filled with white audiences who greatly enjoy the movie, while they don't. This is what inspires Moore to make the movie Dolemite.
  • Deadpan Snarker: D'Urville copes with the very shabby movie production values and the lack of professionalism by snarking and throwing out Stealth Insults.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • When Moore floats the idea of recording a comedy album to his aunt, she mentions how much she loves the family-friendly comedy of Bill Cosby.
    • When Moore tries to recruit him, D'Urville Martin boasts about working with Roman Polański.
  • Determinator: Rudy Ray Moore is middle-aged, overweight, and of middling talent in practically every field he tries, be it comedy, music, dance, etc. But he is bound and determined to make something of himself, and will make himself a star through hard work and perseverance. He perfected his lines and his characters so willingly that he became a master of comedy and improvisation. Certainly much better than other comedy films that portray the main character achieving stardom while not even trying, just for his "talent".
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Moore might be lacking in talent or filmmaking know-how, but he does know how one should professionally conduct themselves on set. After D'Urville snarks at the film crew that they should just turn off all the lights so no one has to look at a particularly contrived upcoming scene, Moore pulls him aside and calls him out for his blatant unprofessionalism. It actually gets D'Urville to clam up.
  • Fan Disservice: Eddie Murphy's ass is on full display when Moore does the photoshoots for the covers of his comedy albums. He clearly is not the heartthrob we saw in ''Boomerang'.
  • Fight-Scene Failure: In-Universe, Dolemite beating up the policemen who come to arrest him for having a car full of guns is pretty clearly Rudy Ray Moore sucking at kung fu. D'Urville even asks the cameraman, "Is there any angle you can shoot this at where it looks like he's actually hitting him?"
  • Hypocritical Humour: Earlier in the movie , while still working at a record store , Rudy dismisses Redd Foxx's comedy routine as not being very funny , because it's just a bunch of raunchiness . Later , this would prove to be most of his act as Dolemite . Justified by the fact that they are at a barbecue with their families and friends , as well as having several small children within earshot .
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: D'Urville starts drinking heavily by the time Moore's first Kung Fu scene is being filmed.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Murphy has previously worked with some of his co-stars on other projects: Chris Rock (Beverly Hills Cop II, Boomerang, and Dr. Dolittle), Mike Epps (Dr. Dolittle 2), Barry Shabaka Henley (Life), and Craig Robinson (Shrek Forever After). Also, he and Snoop Dogg infamously made a reggae song together called "Red Light" in the early 2010s, when Snoop was going by the moniker Snoop Lion.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: One of the brief sequences of The Front Page that we see has Jack Lemmon using this trope to avoid swearing in front of a woman, to the delight of the white audience. This stands in marked contrast to the gleefully vulgar comedy that Moore's audiences enjoy.
  • Moral Guardians: Moore's comedy albums are rejected by some stores due to their raunchy content.
  • Movie-Making Mess: Dolemite was a shabby production, to say the least, and the movie shows how cheap every aspect of it is.
  • Mythology Gag: As Moore is brainstorming ideas for his new movie, he throws out a few such as his character being the devil's son-in-law and an exorcism scene since The Exorcist was big at the time. These ideas would later become the premise for the movie Petey Wheatstraw.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Invoked by Rudy when the cast is reading the immensely negative reviews the movie received; he says such reviews would cause viewers to seek the movie out to see just how vulgar the movie could be.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Rudy and Lady Reed hit it off almost instantly, and he takes her under his wing as his comedy protegè. As a result, they become close friends akin to a brother-sister relationship.
  • Pretentious Pronunciation: D'Urville Martin commences filming by announcing, "Actión."
  • Rags to Riches: The story of how Rudy worked himself up from stealing jokes from the local homeless to becoming a well-loved comedian, singer, and Cult Classic film star.
  • Real-Person Epilogue: The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue cuts back and forth between text explaining what happened after the end of the movie (Dolemite was a huge success) and scenes from the actual Dolemite featuring the real Rudy Ray Moore that had been replicated in the movie. Sadly though, it's mentioned that the real Rudy is no longer with us.
  • Small Name, Big Ego:
    • D'Urville Martin in the film is haughty, arrogant and prideful, thinking of himself as a true auteur and acting talent. Others point out that he's only really been getting bit parts, and when we see him in action it's clear he's overacting his part. The only reason he's part of the production is because Rudy Ray Moore offers to let him direct the entire film.
    • Downplayed with Jerry Jones. He sees himself as a serious writer whose works involve social issues that affect African-Americans and he's initially confused by Moore's vision and ideas. But he eventually catches on and is fully on board with the production thereafter, even becoming close friends with Rudy, ultimately expressing pride in the final product.
  • Set Behind the Scenes: The second half of the film is all about the making of Dolemite, and much of it takes place on the set for the Show Within a Show.
  • Stealth Insult: After Rudy shoots his fight scene, he asks D'Urville how it was. D'Urville answers, "I see no reason to do it again." Rudy takes it as a compliment.
  • Title Drop: Rudy's in-character Mad Libs Catch Phrase as Dolemite: "Dolemite is my name and ____ is my game."
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: In-Universe
    • Jerry Jones, who sees himself as a writer whose works involve serious social issues and is flummoxed by Moore's outrageous vision for the movie (although he eventually catches on).
    • Zig-Zagged with D'Urville Martin, who knows enough about the film industry to take the process of filmmaking a lot more seriously than his collaborators, while still never being under the impression that the resulting film will be anything other than crap.
  • True Companions: Rudy and his friends/collaborators — Ben, Jimmy, and Tony. Once he forges bonds with Lady Reed and Jerry Jones, they join his inner circle.
  • Write What You Know: Stated in-universe to Rudy Ray Moore, who proceeds to inject aspects of his club performer background into the plot. In addition to being a kung fu-fighting pimp, Dolemite becomes a club manager and comedy performer at odds with organized crime trying to take a cut of his business.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Lady Reed's Jerkass ex-husband slaps her at the bar where Rudy first meets her. In response, she slaps him back, hard.