“Dolemite is My Name” (2019)

Click to watch a trailer with so much energy it’ll make you want to watch the movie now. (Warning: Cursing in the trailer.)

In 2017, the online magazine Very Smart Brothas listed their Top 10 Blackest Moments of the Year. Their Number 7 was my Number 1. A brother had converted a file cabinet into a barbecue pit. It was far and away by a hundred country miles easily the blackest thing I’d seen in 2017. (Warning: cursing in the video below. It’s hilarious though.)

In 2018, “Black Panther” was the clear blackest winner of the year. I don’t need to explain why. Watch it and understand.

“Dolemite is My Name” is the winner of Number 1 Blackest Thing I’ve Seen in 2019. It’s a Netflix original movie about comedian Rudy Ray Moore aka “Dolemite.” Why is it my Number 1? Because the foundation of Moore’s humor is African-American folklore. Yes, his humor was X-rated. Imagine if Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx had a baby. The dirtiness and cursing was part of Moore’s appeal.

Moore’s comedy was rooted in The Dozens, a game of spoken words between two contestants, common in black communities of the United States, where participants insult each other until one gives up. It is customary for the Dozens to be played in front of an audience of bystanders, who encourage the participants to reply with increasingly egregious insults in order to heighten the tension and, consequently, make the contest more interesting to watch. –per Wikipedia. (Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, we called it “joning.”)

Moore’s Dolemite persona was so dirty, no one would record his comedy albums. He recorded his first three albums in his apartment in front of an invited audience.

No one would promote his comedy albums nor play them on the radio, so he distributed them himself.

Nobody would finance his first movie, “Dolemite,” so he did it himself with $100,000. The movie made $10,000,000 and was one of the top grossing movies of 1975. Moore made seven more movies.

Rudy Ray Moore’s popularity was contained within the black community. With his unique rhythm, rhyme and persona, he is considered the Godfather of Rap. Moore died a multi-millionaire in 2008 at the age of 81.

Enter Eddie Murphy. He always wanted to produce and star in a movie about Moore, which no one wanted to make because they (read: studio executives) had never heard of Moore. Enter Netflix.

Murphy and Netflix are a marriage made in Heaven. This movie is fantastic! Finally! A movie worthy of Eddie Murphy! A brother is on top of his game. Watch the trailer and you’ll see what I’m saying. A larger than life comedian needed to play another larger than life comedian. It’s clear that Murphy was having the time of his life. I hope he gets award nominations for this role.

“Dolemite is My Name” starts in 1970 when Moore was a struggling showman working at a record store and ends at the premiere of his first movie in 1975. To watch the rise and continued rise of Rudy Ray Moore is wonderful. I wrote that its the blackest thing I’ve seen this year. It’s also a uniquely American tale of never giving up on your dreams. Moore had been in the entertainment business since 1955. To see this brother succeed, against all odds, was heartwarming.

And it’s hilarious! This is Eddie Murphy, y’all! The supporting cast are Mike Epps, Titus Burgess, Craig Robinson, Da’vine Joy Rudolph, Keegan-Michael Key, T.I., Wesley Snipes, Snoop Dogg, Chris Rock, and Emmy winner Ron Cephas Jones (This is Us). Ruth E. Carter, legendary costumer designer and Oscar winner for her costumes for “Black Panther,” created the costumes for this movie. Her designs are fantastic and she deserves some nominations too.

Rudy Ray Moore once said: “I wasn’t saying dirty words just to say them… It was a form of art, sketches in which I developed ghetto characters who cursed. I don’t want to be referred to as a dirty old man, rather a ghetto expressionist.” Moore influenced countless rappers and comedians. “Dolemite is My Name” is a worthy homage to Moore and a comeback for Eddie Murphy.

I loved it. 10 out of 10 Mocha Angels.

Up next on Holistic Saturdays: An update to my “no watching TV nor internet surfing while eating.” Saturday, November 30.

“See You Yesterday” (2019)

Click to watch.

INT – Classroom. Day. Last Day of High School.

Mr. Lockhart: “Let me ask you a question. Why are you participating in the (science) expo?”

CJ: “Full rides to MIT..hello?! Oh, and Sebastian wants to go to Morehouse…scholarships…”

Mr. Lockhart: “You and Mr. Thomas are the smartest kids in this school. Don’t tell him I said that. But you’re missing the big picture here. If time travel were possible, it would be the biggest philosophical and ethical conundrum of the modern age. If you had that kind of power, what would you do? What would you change?”

CJ: :::silence:::

And those are the two questions at the center of the Netflix movie “See You Yesterday.” Best friends CJ and Sebastian create backpacks that enable time travel. When CJ’s brother Calvin is killed by the Brooklyn police in a case of mistaken identity, the teenagers use their time travel ability in a desperate attempt to save Calvin’s life.

What could go wrong? Everything.

That kind of power in the hands of a grieving, hot-headed teenager, no matter how brilliant she is, causes chaos. Different people start to die and suffer because CJ and Sebastian are trying to change time and space. I don’t want to give anything away, but this movie makes you think: What would I do? What would I change?

As happy as I was to see black teenagers depicted this way, my heart ached for the “big picture” problem. CJ can’t even enjoy her and Sebastian’s invention. You know the first and only time I saw a genius black young woman celebrate her inventions and brilliance? Shuri, in “Black Panther.” Wakanda is a fictional hidden land of Africans who can be their full selves without interference. It’s black folks minus colonialism, slavery, and racism. Back in Brooklyn, New York, however, black lives don’t matter. CJ, Sebastian, their families, and their community both pay the price for living in that harsh reality.

“See You Yesterday” is so good in every way, except for the ending. It’s thoughtful, beautifully filmed, current, and relevant. I recommend it highly. It has a Rotten Tomatoes critics score of 93% and an audience score of 30%. I call bullshit. That’s racism pure and simple. People will argue the controversial non-ending is why audiences didn’t like the movie. I don’t buy that. “See You Yesterday” has a social urgency that makes people uncomfortable.

How would I have ended the movie? In the garage where the kids invented the time travel backpacks. I’d have had Sebastian destroy the last time travel backpack in order to save CJ from herself. Watch it and decide how you think the movie should have ended.

An enthusiastic Eight out Ten Mocha Angels.

Up next: Vegan Deli Bowls with Smashed Chickpea Salad (V, GF). Saturday, November 16.