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Movie Review

Throughout 50 bumpy years of life, Rudy Ray Moore has never made it to where he wants to be. He’s tried to be a singer, a disc jockey, a shake dancer, a fortune-teller; you name it, he’s tried it. But he’s never quite broken through to grab the public’s attention. He did manage to make his way from a small, beaten-down life in Arkansas to the golden Southern California coast. But frankly, he still feels pretty small and beaten down.

Of course, that doesn’t stop Rudy. It’s the 1970s, and other black entertainers are now breaking through regularly. It’s only a matter of time and finding the right bit, the right angle, before Rudy finally finds fame, too.

So he keeps pushing. He keeps trying.

Rudy currently works days in a tiny record shop. At night, he does a little gig at a local gin joint where he introduces music groups and tries to slip in a few jokes. The hard-drinking crowd pretty much ignores him, but he keeps prodding the manager for his own slot.

Then one day a few things hit Rudy hard. The first is the smell of booze and urine on an old bum he has to toss out of the record store. But the second thing that smacks Rudy upside the head is that scruffy old dude’s patter.

Trying to get somebody to toss him some change, the craggy black panhandler has a routine of spouting a rhyming thread of “African-American folklore” that makes people laugh. It’s a braggadocios string of storytelling poetry about mighty sexual conquests and world-beating exploits. And the young black folks nearby chuckle and snort.

Which is far more than anybody ever did for Rudy.

Before long, Rudy has worked up a new act and a fresh routine. He rewrites the homeless guy’s stuff and creates “Dolemite,” a streetwise, afro-wearing pimp with a silver-tipped walking stick who has a rhyming story to tell, laced throughout with ’70s raunchiness. Dolemite is half primping peacock. Half vulgar poet. Half oversexed stallion. A man so over the top and chest-thumpingly excessive that he needs three halves.

Rudy’s new shtick is a hit. Next thing you know, he’s cranking out smutty comedy albums and heading off on tour to black clubs and comedy joints. He’s got money coming in. He’s got attention and even local fame.

But that’s not enough.

After taking several friends to a movie one night, a new inspiration hits Rudy. If Dolemite is a smash in small black clubs and joints, why couldn’t they make a film about him? It’ll be a pic packed with “t---ies, action and kung fu,” something people will want to see. And something funny, not lame like the white comedy he and his crew just sat through.

“I can be everywhere at once,” Rudy muses and grins with enthusiasm.

Now he just has to figure out how to make a movie.

And do kung fu.

But hey, he’s a quick study.

Positive Elements

“Sometimes a dream don’t come true,” a disc jockey declares as Rudy doggedly dreams of fame. But Rudy refuses to give up on trying to make something of himself. And his perseverance, in the face of constant opposition from people around him and from life itself, is undeniably inspirational (even if the ultimate outcome of that determination certainly isn’t). That’s one of the few positives in a film that spends most of its time focusing on the crude and negative.

In fact, Rudy’s core nature is really the only positive element here. He’s depicted as a man who works hard and cares deeply for those around him. And in spite of his drive to be recognized by the world as star material, he eventually pushes aside a key moment of fame just to entertain average people in the streets.

Spiritual Content

Someone concludes grace before a meal with the phrase, “In Jesus’ name.”

Rudy produces his own comedy album. He stamps the blank cover with an ink stamp print of a devil’s head, saying that the image will give the impression that the album is “illegal and forbidden.”

Sexual Content

The lion’s share of this film focuses on Rudy, and his crew of friends and college students, making a comedic action film featuring his Dolemite character. This movie’s only “sex scene” takes place on the film set as Dolemite is partially naked in bed being straddled by a topless woman. The bed shakes violently and the room virtually crumbles in the midst of their explosive simulated lovemaking. We also see Rudy’s bare rear in several scenes. (During the credits, we see some of the same flesh- baring scenes featuring the real Rudy Ray Moore, too.)

That said, there is plenty of flesh and sex on tap here in other forms. Rudy’s comedy routines are rife with raw, sleazy tales of sexual bravado that involve discussions of body parts and various crude sexual acts and feats. He asks a woman named Lady Reed to join his stage act, and men tend to hand her dollar bills during her randy portion of the show. We see her later getting undressed and pulling cash out of her shirt, cleavage and underwear.

We also see a number of different women exposing their bodies in one way or another. Women in clubs and bars wear cleavage-baring tops and incredibly short skirts and clinging outfits. One full-figured female model strips for an album cover shot. And though Rudy sheds his clothes, too, he’s kept partially covered while the camera examines the model’s full-frontal nudity.

We see several other album covers featuring a shirtless Rudy and a group of topless women. Strippers dance topless in a club and step forward to sit and talk about being in Rudy’s film. The camera makes sure to examine their voluptuous fleshiness from various angles.

One of Rudy’s friends makes a quip about gays.

Violent Content

A friend of Rudy’s borrows his cousin’s Cadillac and drives it recklessly during one filmed movie car chase. Then, much to the man’s surprise, the special effects crew blows up the parked car in a fiery explosion.

During some in-movie fight scenes, people get punched, kicked and thrown around by a team of female ninja warriors. Rudy (as Dolemite) fights and battles (lamely) with a number of baddies. Then he rips the intestines from one bad guy in a silly looking scene.

While arguing in a bar, Lady Reed’s husband hits her. In return, she punches him full in the face, knocking him to the floor.

Crude or Profane Language

“M-----f---er” is Rudy Ray Moore’s go-to word for expressions of anger or joy (or casual conversation, for that matter); he and others spew some version of the f-word more than 130 times. Those frequent profanities are joined by more than 50 uses of the s-word and scores of other crudities, such as “b--ch,” “a--,” “h---” and “d--n.” God’s and Jesus’ names are both misused more than a dozen times total (with God being combined with “d--n” for ten of those). Many crude, vulgar and profane references are made to male and female genitals, as well as other body parts. And the n-word is spit out about ten times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

People smoking cigarettes is a common sight here, even in movie theaters and during office meetings, which was culturally acceptable in the 1970s. While on the set and in other casual settings, people drink wine and alcohol, too. In fact, Dolemite’s director often drinks from a flask or straight out of a liquor bottle.

Rudy and Lady Reed share drinks when they first meet at a bar. And various bar and club patrons generally have beer and mixed drinks on their tables. Rudy has large bottle of booze poured into a punch bowl while trying to court some investors.

The old, battered hotel that Rudy procures for his film shoot has been boarded up for years and is known to be a hangout for junkies and drug dealers. Part of Rudy’s arrangement with the building’s owner is to go in and chase those people away, which he does.

Other Negative Elements

We here several critical remarks about whites and “whitey” culture. Rudy’s film crew steals electricity from an adjoining building, since there’s no power in their old hotel.


Dolemite Is My Name is a breezy-but-blue story of perseverance and passion. In it, Eddie Murphy unleashes the kind of magnetic, high-energy performance that made him a household name during his halcyon days in the 1980s.

Late in the film, protagonist Rudy Ray Moore and his crew are riding in a limo to the premiere of the movie they had risked everything to make. One by one, they read the newspaper reviews of their film. Each review is worse than the last. One declares that their movie is “rude, crude and vulgar!”

Ironically, that description fits this foul-mouthed and raw biopic to a T.

Dolemite Is My Name is, without question, extremely rude, crude and vulgar. In fact, as I watched this film—packed with the foulest language, the coarsest sex gags and acres of bared flesh—those were the exact words I was thinking of using in my review.

So, now I have.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore; Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nick; Wesley Snipes as D'Urville Martin; Keegan-Michael Key as Jerry Jones; Chris Rock as Daddy Fatts; Craig Robinson as Ben Taylor; Da'Vine Joy Randolph as Lady Reed


Craig Brewer ( )





Record Label



In Theaters

October 4, 2019

On Video

October 25, 2019

Year Published



Bob Hoose

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