A Review of Eddie Murphy’s “Dolemite Is My Name”

January 13, 2024
1 min read

Dolemite is my Name, But You Can Call me Akeem

By Solomon Chukwuma Ugwuanyi

Saturday, November 16, 2019.

Given the powerful force with which Eddie Murphy’s new film announced itself, the excitement with which it has been received, success at the box office and 97% rating on rotten tomatoes, it is easy to forget that his portrayal of Akeem, 31 years ago, was also worthy of an Oscar, hence the suffix “…but you can call me Akeem”. This is because Mr Murphy’s portrayal of this new character Dolemite, might obliterate the fun reflection of his Coming to America’s character Akeem, from our collective memories.

Dolemite Is My Name is a story is of growth cast in sheer resilience and grit, where a fledgling real-life comedian Rudy Ray Moore – after so many failures and rejections – reinvents himself in the image of Dolemite, a character whose exploits and punchlines he learned from a friend. The almost exponential success that follows his assumption of the character Dolemite is consistent with Tyrion Lannister’s assertion about stories in the Season Finale of Game of Thrones, “What unites people?” Tyrion asked. “Armies? Gold? Flags?” No. It’s stories, he said. “There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it” Rudy Ray Moore heard the stories of Dolemite, was fascinated, but did not retell it, he went an extra step to live and become the story, and true to Lannister, nothing indeed did defeat him. However, consistent with all the insatiable desires of humans, he wanted more and the movie chronicles his attempt to achieve that. 

Mr Murphy as usual was excellent and at ease with his acting and some of the scenes that could be seen as tacky in the first glance were exactly intended to achieve that effect , to reflect how grossly underfunded the initial 1970 production of the original film by the same name was, and which itself was based on a true story. It was also refreshing and quite frankly original to see Wesley Snipes interpret a comic and sexually ambiguous character so flawlessly, which is a polar deviation from his macho and or villain image cultivated through Blade 1 to 3, and more recently The Expendables 3. 

Altogether it was exciting to have Mr Murphy back on screen after a considerably long hiatus and hopefully by the time Coming to America 2 hits the screens in December of 2020, we will still remember that there was Akeem before Dolemite. 

Dolemite Is My Name is available on Netflix.

Solomon Chukwuma Ugwuanyi is a gradaute student in Postcolonial literature at the University of Bremen, Germany.

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