We’re about to get a whole lot of Eddie Murphy over the next few years—as of last month, Netflix was reportedly close to signing a $70-million-dollar deal for the legendary actor to return to standup comedy. And that’s not even mentioning Coming to America 2, which is in production now.
But first, we’ll see Murphy return to his brand of goofy, gleefully-over-the-top comedy in Netflix’s Dolemite is My Name. Murphy plays the titular character, who is based on real-life icon Rudy Ray Moore, a legendary comedian, rapper, and actor. Moore’s Dolemite trilogy is well-known as one of the greatest blaxploitation films in the 1970s, a crime thriller starring the late legend as a pimp/nightclub owner/martial arts badass.
Netflix’s take looks like a highly-stylized, green-suits-and-mustaches period biopic, with Murphy surrounded by an astounding cast of new and old collaborators—including Wesley Snipes, Keegan Michael-Key, Titus Burgess, Craig Robinson, and Mike Epps.
As the official Netflix synopsis reads:
Stung by a string of showbiz failures, floundering comedian Rudy Ray Moore (Academy Award nominee Eddie Murphy) has an epiphany that turns him into a word-of-mouth sensation: step onstage as someone else. Borrowing from the street mythology of 1970s Los Angeles, Moore assumes the persona of Dolemite, a pimp with a cane and an arsenal of obscene fables. However, his ambitions exceed selling bootleg records deemed too racy for mainstream radio stations to play. Moore convinces a social justice-minded dramatist (Keegan-Michael Key) to write his alter ego a film, incorporating kung fu, car chases, and Lady Reed (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), an ex-backup singer who becomes his unexpected comedic foil. Despite clashing with his pretentious director, D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes), and countless production hurdles at their studio in the dilapidated Dunbar Hotel, Moore’s Dolemite becomes a runaway box office smash and a defining movie of the Blaxploitation era.
After about a decade of only seeing Murphy appear either via CGI donkey or slightly-uneven dramatic role, it’s nice to see him in old form, cheesin’ and slinging one-liners. Dolemite is My Name is out on Netflix and select theaters this fall.