Eddie Murphy is all pimped up and ready to rid his community of evildoers in the first trailer for the comedy biopic, Dolomite is my name. It’s director Craig Brewer’s tribute to Rudy Ray Moore, a singer, dancer, and comedian in the 1960s and 1970s who made a classic blaxploitation film. (Note: The trailer is not entirely safe to view in the workplace.)
Moore claimed he got the idea for the Dolemite character while working at a Hollywood record store, where one of the locals was telling obscenely tall tales about a man named Dolemite. Moore adapted the persona in his act and released three albums of his often raunchy material, accompanied by jazz and R&B musicians. Because of his delivery style (which usually involved rhyming lyrics), Moore is often referred to as the “Godfather of Rap.” (Snoop Dogg, who has a cameo in the biopic, has said, “Without Rudy Ray Moore, there wouldn’t be Snoop Dogg, and it really is.”)
Moore slowly built up a cult following, despite the fact that his albums (including the cover) were far too vulgar to be shown publicly in record stores. With the rise of “blaxploitation” films in the early 1970s, Moore saw an opportunity to bring the character Dolemite to the cinema. He self-financed his first film with royalties from his record sales. The result was the instant blaxploitation classic dolomitereleased in 1975, about “the ultimate ghetto hero” in the tradition of shaft† Dolemite knew kung-fu, was a sharp dresser, was known for his sexual prowess, and was determined to rid his neighborhood of criminal influence. The film’s success spawned several sequels, although Moore’s material never quite made it to the mainstream.
That’s pretty much the plot of Dolemite is my name, judging by the trailer. We see Moore (played by Murphy) create the character Dolemite, right down to picking out an exciting lime green suit for his act. We also see his growing frustration when his several unashamedly vulgar albums turn out to be unsaleable through the usual channels. “A man slams a door in my face, I just find another door,” he explains.
Then Moore goes to the cinema and has a revelation: he is going to make his own film, with Dolemite as the central character. “If I’m in that light with my own film, I could be everywhere at once,” he says. He even recruits a bona fide movie star, D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes), by promising to let Martin direct. Who cares if Moore doesn’t know karate or kung fu? He calls himself a quick learner. Looks like things don’t go as planned, from a slightly bigger car explosion than expected to the set actually collapsing around the actors’ mid-sex scene. (Bonus points for the cheap fake guts.)
The cast also includes Chris Rock, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Ron Cephas Jones, Mike Epps, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Keegan-Michael Key.
Dolemite is my name will debut at the Toronto Film Festival in September and hit select theaters this fall. It will also be available on Netflix. That will give you some time to prepare, if you like, by revisiting the original dolomite and its sequel, The Human Tornado (1976) and The Return of Dolemite (2002), as well as the 1999 quasi-sequel, Shaolin Dolemite (1999).
Listing image by YouTube/Netflix