Richard joins Ryan Doyle and Jay Michaels of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show to talk about the weeks big pop culture stories, the popularity of “WandaVision” and the nostalgic rush of “Coming 2 America.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Disney’s animated action flick “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Disney+ with Premier Access and theatres), the long awaited sequel “Coming 2 America” (Amazon Prime Video) and the look at the war on drugs “Crisis” (on digital and demand).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Disney’s animated action flick “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Disney+ with Premier Access and theatres), the long awaited sequel “Coming 2 America” (Amazon Prime Video), the biopic “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday” (VOD), the legal drama “The Mauritanian” (premium digital and on-demand), the coming-of-age story “My Salinger Year” (VOD) and the look at the war on drugs “Crisis” (on digital and demand).
“Coming 2 America,” the thirty-three-years-in-the-making sequel to the Eddie Murphy hit, now streaming on Amazon Prime, may be the peak pandemic film. It’s a blast of nostalgia for those who seek comfort in the familiar when the world seems to have gone mad, tempered with a new, updated attitude.
Murphy and Arsenio Hall return as newly-crowned King Akeem Joffer of Zamunda and his confidante Semmi (among at least a half dozen other characters they play). The African nation is still a paradise where Akeem, his wife Queen Lisa Joffer (Shari Headley) and three daughters,
Princess Meeka (KiKi Layne), Princess Omma (Bella Murphy) and Princess Tinashe (Akiley Love), are benign and loved rulers, but there are hiccups.
With no male heir to take his place, King Akeem is vulnerable to the whims of General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), leader of the nearby Nextdoria. When it appears that Akeem may have an heir from a one-night stand from his first trip to Queens, New York decades ago, the King and Semmi gas up the private jet and return to America.
There’s more plot and quite a few more laughs, but the story is so predictable, you’ve probably already figured where this story is going. It’s comfort food with a side of girl power, that plays like the first fish-out-of-water movie in reverse. Originally, a prince came to Queens to find a queen and self-awareness; now a prince comes to Zamunda to find a wife and himself.
Original screenwriters Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield along with “Black-ish” writer and producer Kenya Barris, give the people what they want, a blast of nostalgia that mostly does away with the dated sexism of the first film. There’s even some subtext about tradition vs. progress woven through the story, but let’s be real, you’re not dialling up “Coming 2 America” for the subtext. You’re here for the warm fuzzies. There’s something comforting about Murphy’s effortless way with a funny line, and while the movie isn’t exactly a knee slapper all the way through, it’s fun to see Eddie and Arsenio back in their royal robes.
Supporting work from Leslie Jones as Akeem’s loud and proud one-night-stand is laugh-out-loud-funny and Snipes, as the slightly unhinged Izzy, reaffirms that the comedic chemistry he and Murphy shared in “Dolemite Is My Name” wasn’t a fluke. Add to that a game of spot the actors reprising their roles and some new cameos—James Earl Jones! John Amos! Shari Headley! Rick Ross!—and you have peak pandemic, a movie that amiably passes the time until you can go to bed.
Rudy Ray Moore may be the most influential entertainer who is not exactly a household name. The actor, comedian, musician, singer and film producer is best known under his stage name Dolemite, his motor-mouthed pimp persona from the 1975 film “Dolemite.” Featuring a mix of clumsy kung fu action, flashy clothes and sexually explicit dialogue and action, it has a well-earned a reputation as one of the best bad movies ever made.
No one will ever confuse the “Dolemite” movie or its sequels “The Human Tornado” and “The Return of Dolemite” with great art, but the character, vividly brought to life by Eddie Murphy in the new biopic “Dolemite is My Name,” was a trailblazer. His vocal delivery, a blend of braggadocio and raunchy rhymes, was a direct influence on hip hop pioneers like Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes and 2 Live Crew, setting the template for a generation of rappers.
The new film, directed by “Hustle and Flow’s” Craig Brewer, is the story of how Moore became Dolemite but it’s also about an outsider who created his own path to stardom. Like “The Disaster Artist” or “Ed Wood” it’s about the power of a person to make their dreams come true.
When we first meet Moore he’s assistant managing Dolphin’s of Hollywood one of the first African-American-owned record stores in Los Angeles by day and flopping as an MC in the clubs by night. He’s what they called an all-in-one-act. He sings, dances and tells corny jokes that start with lines like, “What did the Elephant say to the man?”
It isn’t until he finds inspiration in the tall tales told by Ricco (Ron Cephas Jones), a homeless man who hangs around the shop. “I ain’t no hobo,” he announces. “I am a repository of African-American folklore.” Ricco tells hilarious stories of “the baddest m*****rf***er who ever lived, Dolemite,” giving Moore just what he needs, an act like no one has ever seen before. Dolemite, complete with rhyming street poetry, wild 70s fashion and enough obscenity to make Lenny Bruce blush, is an instant hit. Audiences love it and soon Moore is making raunchy, self-produced records that hit the Billboard charts despite having to be sold under-the-counter because of their filthy covers and subject matter.
The inspiration to bring Dolemite to the big screen comes after Moore and friends take in a screening of Billy Wilder’s 1974 comedy “The Front Page.” The mostly white audience eats it up, yukking it up throughout while Rudy and his friends stare at the screen, stone faced. “That movie had no funny, no t**ties, and no Kung Fu,” he says. “The stuff people like us want to see.” He hires D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes) and playwright Jerry Jones (Keegan-Michael Key) and self-finances a movie about a pimp who takes revenge on the criminals and corrupt police officers who framed him. The result is a playful, over-the-top jumble of kung fu fighting, low rent action and sexy, sexy good times that becomes a word-of-mouth hit. “All my life I’ve wanted to be famous,” Rudy says, “but this is more important. This is about connecting with people.”
“Dolemite is My Name” is a simple, very sweet movie about a very raunchy man. An inspirational story of outsiders who find an on ramp into the show biz life nobody else would offer them, it’s the tale of an independent man who doesn’t see problems, only solutions.
Murphy plays Moore with plenty of heart. It’s a live wire performance that brings to life the indefatigable spirit of a guy who thought big. “I want the world to know I exist,” he says, not only for himself but for his under-represented community.
“Dolemite is My Name,” from its wild costumes by Oscar-winning designer Ruth E. Carter, to the fun performances from Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Chris Rock, Keegan-Michael Key, Snoop Dogg, Craig Robinson and Da’Vine Joy Randolph in supporting roles, to the music and the comedy to the evocation of the 1970s, is an entertaining and heartening story of a life lived large.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the latest action pic from Will Smith, “Gemini Man” and the bio-comedy “Dolemite is My Name” starring Eddie Murphy.
When I went to high school people didn’t dance as much as they swayed, or maybe gyrated when the music really hit them. The adventurous among us occasionally tried the Hustle or the Bump, but that was about it. According to “Footloose,” a remake of the 80s classic from “Hustle and Flow” director Craig Brewer, now-a-days high school seniors have moves that would make Mikhail Baryshnikov green with envy.
Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) is a big city kid forced by circumstance to move to the small town of Bomont, Georgia to live with his uncle. He’s a rebel who soon finds a cause in town. Three years prior a group of teens were killed in a car crash after a dance. In reaction the town banned public dancing, amplified music and other rites of teenage passage. Ren, a former gymnast and dancing fool, challenges the law, butts heads with the local preacher Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid in the John Lithgow role) and falls in love with the minister’s daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough). Will the town lift the ban? Will the love birds ever get to break dance in public?
“Footloose” is a little grittier than you would imagine a movie starring Ryan Seacrest’s girlfriend to be. Director Brewer’s roots are in indie filmmaking and it shows. The slickness normally associated with contemporary teen fare is by and large missing here, replaced with the steamy Southern feel that permeates his other films. You won’t hear a line like, “You’re sexier than socks on a rooster,” in any of the “Twilight” movies.
MacCormack and Hough shine the brightest when they are in motion on the dance floor, but Miles Teller as Willard (played by Chris Penn in the original), Ren’s dance-challenged best friend steals the show on and off the dance floor.
Rebooting a well-loved classic is a tricky business. Brewer has wisely not messed with the formula too much. There are slight changes, Ren is now from Boston instead of Chicago, the tractor game of chicken from the original is now a bus race and the dancing has been updated but upbeat rebellious core (and most of the songs) of the ’84 movie is intact.