(SPOILERS) It says something about unlikely interdependencies in the digital age that Amazon Prime should suddenly offer Rudy Ray Moore’s blaxpoitation cult item off the back of the publicity engendered by Eddie Murphy’s Netflix comeback movie Dolemite Is My Name. The problem with cult items is often that they’re so attuned to time and place – and how wasted you were when first encountering them – that theirs are the most subjective of merits.
So it is with Dolemite, played simultaneously straight and tongue-in-cheek (complete with rallying cry of “I’m gonna let ‘em know that Dolemite is my name and fuckin’ up motherfuckers is my game!”), and rigorously sloppy in production values, performances and editing. The staging generally is cheerfully risible (even the freezeframes introducing characters are woefully inept) and all the more so during “fight” sequences; it’s easy to see where I’m Gonna Git You Sucka drew its inspiration.
Moore’s Dolemite is the unjustly imprisoned pimp cum rapper cum Kung Fu wizard, outwitting the corrupt police and enemy Willie Green (D’Urville Martin, also the director), who also had him framed. His insults (“That rat soup eatin’, honky motherfucker”; “You no-business, born-insecure, jock-jawed motherfucker”) are undoubtedly the best part of this ramshackle affair, along with other choice dialogue such as “Tell him I want him out of here in twenty-four hours – and twenty-three of them have just gone”.
Dolemite’s at best a casual amusement, though, too amateurishly undisciplined and loose to cohere or provide consistent laughs. And yes, I realise saying that means I may have to contend with Dolemite pullin’ his Hush Puppies out of my motherfuckin’ ass.
Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.