Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore

Watching Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name brought back a few fond memories of the 70s but like most TV and film histories, the recreation is far more polished and colorful than the actual past.

That said, this movie works quite well but I had to shift gears to watch it. The vulgar speech didn’t go with my Christmassy contemplations and I initially switched the show off after a few opening scenes.

Later in the evening, however, I felt I should watch it. This time around I knew what I was getting into and, with my proverbial shields up, it worked far better.

Rehashing plotlines is not my thing so I will direct readers to this excellent review for that.

What I did find worthy of note is that Eddie Murphy can really act.

Originally a Saturday Night Live star back when they still called the show by its full name and not SNL, Murphy was funny in the 80s (I guess). I wasn’t watching the show too often by then, preferring more the original 1970s cast.

Following his success on SNL, Murphy went into films that I never found terribly engaging or memorable, except for maybe The Golden Child.

For the most part, Murphy’s roles and performances seemed superficial. Just a guy who figured out the right moves to get the ordinary moviegoer chuckling. Not my kind of comedy.

Mind you, when Will Smith did the same on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, I did laugh. But that was a different generation and Smith is so electric you can feel his presence leap out of the TV into your living room. Even today that show still works.

Eddie Murphy never reached me like Will Smith did. Not so much, anyhow.

All that changed with Dolemite Is My Name. Not being a fan of so-called blaxploitation films, I was compelled to search afterward to learn more about the cultural history behind this movie.

Murphy displays some serious acting skills in this film. His larger-than-life character Rudy Ray Moore exhibits depth, subtlety, and is totally believable. As the narrative progresses one gets the impression that Murphy is putting a bit of himself in the character, an older guy who still has something to say:

I’m back! And like vintage wine, much better with age.