By Michael Hernandez
Dolemite Is My Name pays homage to Rudy Ray Moore. It’s an amazing story about a man who refused to quit. When he was told he couldn’t make it as a comedian, he became an iconic one whose material is still alive today. “The Signified Monkey” and “Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-in-Law” remain as comedy classics in African American culture.
The entire movie is a history lesson in the 70’s black culture that was a part of the “Blaxploitation movement.” The movie gives you a real insight into the man called Dolemite. He developed his character as a pretend pimp by listening to stories told by the neighborhood winos. His entire career was based on those stories, and his sharp-dressing, fast-talking character was what he based his entire act on.
His “street” chatter was loved by audiences. Moore also learned early in his career that no one was catering to the black audience so he made a very successful living giving the black audience what they liked. Without Rudy Ray Moore there would be no Tyler Perry. Again, learning that the African American audience was underserved, he started making his own movies, acting in and financing them himself.
Moore learned how to seek out talent in his movies when he didn’t know how to complete a task. He hired a writer, Jerry Jones (Keegan Michael Key), a director, D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes), and a finance man, Theodore Toney (Titus Burgess). Eddie Murphy does a wonderful job of showing the kind and gentlemanly man who was as far as possible from the “pimp persona” that Rudy Ray Moore portrayed publicly.
He was kind to his fans and was respectful to his female co-stars. Finally, we learn about the real Rudy Ray Moore. He was an entrepreneur who succeeded against all odds. Because of his on-stage style delivery, he was known as “The Godfather of Rap.” He continued to perform up until the time of his death in 2008. Dolemite Is My Name is rated R for nudity and strong language.On my “Hollywood Popcorn Scale” I give Dolemite Is My Name a JUMBO.