A blaxploitation trailblazer reenters the spotlight as a major comedy star returns.
Eddie Murphy’s presence on the big screen has been…inconsistent…in recent years. He’s only appeared in three live action films since 2010 and none of those have been massively memorably, nor have they full taken advantage of Murphy’s prodigious talents as an actor. This week’s Netflix original Dolemite Is My Name hopes to buck that trend.
Murphy stars in the film as Rudy Ray Moore, an actor/comedian/entertainer who spent years hustling to be famous, making his own comedy records and performing anywhere he could. Eventually Moore comes up with the character of Dolemite, a sharply-dressed action hero. Taking the money he’d made from his homemade comedy records, he decides to take the character to the big screen, creating one of the most influential blaxploitation films of the 1970s.
Murphy as Moore is decked out in his fanciest suit on the one-sheet, strutting for the camera in full peacock mode. The rest of the cast are presented in the multi-colored stripes that are arranged behind him while his journey is shared in the copy at the bottom, “Make your own legend.” It’s a bright, bold design that does a good job of selling the vibe fo the film.
Moore, we see in the first trailer from early August, is a guy constantly hustling in the service of getting famous. He’s tried everything and one day creates the Dolemite character, one he finds catches on with people the more outrageous he acts. Still on the fringes, he decides the key is in making a movie about Dolemite, one whose quality appears somewhat questionable, at least during production. But he’s got a group of collaborators there to help him and no end of ambition.
Online and Social
There doesn’t appear to be a website or social profile for the movie specifically, though Netflix has given it some support on its brand channels.
Advertising and Promotions
Murphy and Snipes along with many of the other filmmakers appeared in a featurette released in September that had them all talking about who Moore was and what kind of influence he had on culture as a whole.
Media and Press
Brewer was interviewed at the same time the trailer was released about what attracted him to the project, working with Murphy and more.
News that Murphy would host “Saturday Night Live” in December. While that’s happening a couple months after this movie came out, the announcement was certainly well-timed to help bring the actor back into the mainstream spotlight.
The topic of recreating the wardrobe of the era was covered in an interview with the movie’s costume designer.
Murphy was interviewed around the time the movie was premiering in Toronto, talking about why he wanted to play this role as well as shutting down any conversation about this being a “comeback” given he’s never really left the spotlight.
A feature profile of Murphy a few weeks prior to release allowed him to talk about this movie, his return to stand-up and more. The movie’s writing team shared how they have been trying to get this made with Murphy for a long time and were thrilled to finally see it come to fruition.
The film’s premiere was attended by most of the movie’s cast along with others, all of whom praised Murphy’s return to feature films
Netflix’s campaign for the film has at least two significant feel-good elements to it:
First, there’s Murphy. What we see in the trailer and hear in the press interviews and other material shows the actor still has a fastball that few can match, even after so much time away. He’s loose but focused in a way that will seem instantly familiar to anyone who watched him during his 80s heyday.
Second, there’s the celebration of a cultural icon that may not be a household name. Instead of rehashing the same 24 cultural events from the 20th century – many of which happened to be focused around white people – branching out into new territory is something that enriches us all.
Picking Up the Spare
A few clips like this were released shortly after the movie was in theaters.
The costumes from the movie got more and more attention in features and interviews like this.
Another profile of Murphy had him reminding everyone he hasn’t gone anywhere and is still very much the person he always has been. A similar piece later focused on the “return” narrative that surrounded the entire campaign.
There was finally some attention paid to Da’vine Joy Randolph, who plays a key role in the story, in the form of a feature profile, with another coming shortly after that and another even later. She also appeared on “Kimmel.”
Costar Luenell also got a turn with an appearance on “Kimmel,” where Murphy later showed up – along with “The Late Show” – while Key chatted with Fallon on “The Tonight Show.”
Netflix shared a couple of the “Corner Booth” videos from festivals featuring Murphy/Brewer, Burgess/Randolph, Carter and the screenwriters and Epps/Robinson.
There was also a neat little feature showing the real life background of those who made the real Dolemite and explaining some of the industry terms. Another one had the cast talking even more about the movie and their characters.
A new featurette focusing on Murphy’s performance as Moore came out in late December. Another offered more detail on the costume design of the movie.
There was finally a profile of Wesley Snipes, who plays an important role in the film’s story. Additional stories included another interview with the movie’s costume designer and a conversation with its editor.