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The Golden Age of Eddie Murphy Cinema occurred between 1982 and 1988, with the release of such classics as 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America.

Since then, he’s had some great moments (Dreamgirls, Life, The Nutty Professor)—but he’s had plenty more duds. His forays into “family entertainment” included his enjoyable voice work in the Shrek films, but also included dreck like The Haunted Mansion, Daddy Day Care and Imagine That.

And then, of course, there was Vampire in Brooklyn. I’m still recovering from that one.

It was as if Eddie, the amazing movie comedian, went into hiding for more than three decades. That’s a long time.

Well, Eddie Murphy is back: Dolemite Is My Name is a movie that can stand side by side with the best of Murphy’s Golden Age. It’s a consistently funny biopic honoring comedian-actor Rudy Ray Moore, and it’s clear Murphy’s heart is in this project full-force. It’s the best performance he’s ever delivered in a movie. Period.

The film takes us on a tour of Moore’s rise to fame, starting with the creation of his Dolemite character (a campy hybrid of Shaft and Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch), and his poetically profane comedy albums. Moore mixed profanity with rhyming in ways that have earned him a “godfather of rap” moniker, with rap giants like Snoop Dogg (who appears in this film as a record-store DJ) saying they wouldn’t have careers if it weren’t for the F-word maestro. Clearly, Moore also helped lay the groundwork for the likes of Murphy and his standup greatness. This makes it all the more appropriate that Eddie Murphy headlines this movie. Murphy, playing Moore, finds himself in a movie like those from his early days—a movie that is consistently funny, powered by Murphy’s infectious charisma.

Quite frankly, I’d forgotten that Murphy could command a film so completely. Whether he’s re-creating terrible kung fu antics or reacting uncomfortably as a studio guy rejects his movie, Murphy shows that he indeed remains one of the greatest screen talents alive. I must make this perfectly clear: Murphy is awesome in this movie.

Craig Brewer, directing from a script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, captures the look of the 1970s and blaxploitation with big collared shirts, pimp hats and fat furs. The re-creations of the actual Dolemite movie (currently available for streaming on Amazon—and it’s glorious on all fronts) are hilariously accurate. Brewer helps Murphy—an extremely confident comedic performer with a lot happening under the surface—capture the essence of Moore. Murphy doesn’t hit a false note in this movie, showing us a brash comic who rises to fame on the wings of the best dirty jokes in the land—and an undying desire to be famous.

Helping things mightily is a supporting cast that includes Craig Robinson, Mike Epps, Keegan-Michael Key and, most wonderfully, Wesley Snipes, in the scene-stealing role of the original Dolemite director, D’Urville Martin. Snipes—who looks like a day hasn’t passed since White Men Can’t Jump, and that’s just not fair—hasn’t had an opportunity to shine like this in decades. This film marks his grand return to form; he’s a total crack-up in the role.

As for the return of Murphy, this is just the start: He’s currently working on sequels to Coming to America (also directed by Brewer) and Beverly Hills Cop, and is preparing for a return to Saturday Night Live as a host. (He’s going to do Gumby and Buckwheat again!) Most incredibly, he’s reportedly making a return to the standup stage. If Dolemite Is My Name is any indication, he hasn’t lost a step, and we could be looking at a second Golden Age of Murphy.

Dolemite Is My Name is now streaming on Netflix; it’s also playing at the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033).

Published in Reviews

February is the shortest month of the year—but it just so happens to be the time for some of the hottest events of the year.

The McCallum Theatre’s packed schedule includes a lot of great stuff. At 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 4, classical violinist Joshua Bell will be performing. He’s the violinist who was the subject of a Washington Post story about him busking in the subway—with few paying attention to him or knowing who he was. Bell has a classical-music career that goes back 30 years, and he’s played some of the biggest classical music halls around the world. Tickets are $60 to $105. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 14, Broadway star and vocalist Linda Eder will take the stage. Eder is no stranger to the McCallum and has turned in sell-out performances on its stage before. Tickets are $38 to $68. Do you love magic? Then at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 17, you’ll love It’s Magic! The show will feature some of the biggest stars of magic, and it’s produced by Milt Larsen and Terry Hill, best known as the producers of America’s Got Talent. You’ll see magicians who have performed in Las Vegas and magicians who have racked up international acclaim. Tickets are $18 to $38. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some big names coming through; here are just a few to give you an idea. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, The Beach Boys will be performing. Beach Boys member Mike Love is now the only original member remaining, though longtime member Bruce Johnston is still along for the ride. The band’s shows remain wildly popular with fans; you’ll hear all the songs that sold millions of records and changed rock ’n’ roll history in America. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8, R&B group Boyz II Men will be performing. This would be a nice Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetheart, if you have one—or even a great night out with friends. I’ve always been blown away by the Boyz’ singing talents and unbelievable harmonies. Tickets are $39 to $79. If those two big names aren’t big enough for you, you’ll love this one: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, the Dogg himself, Snoop Dogg, will be performing. Snoop’s name is iconic in hip-hop, and he was one of the biggest rappers in the world back in the ’90s (in fact, he still is today), with rap anthems that get heavy radio and club play. Tickets are $59 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some compelling offerings in February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, the famous all-male revue Thunder From Down Under will take place. If your girlfriend isn’t replying to your text messages that night, that’s most likely where she is. Tickets are $15 to $25. On Valentine’s Day, specifically at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 14, it’ll be a magical night at the Art Laboe Valentine’s Super Love Jam. Laboe has become comically known for all the people who call into his radio show to give shout-outs to their loved ones in prison, which often involve names like “Baby Joker.” Laboe recently gave an interview where he said that he doesn’t judge his listeners—and that’s kept him on the air and has led to some uplifting moments for inmates and their families. The Love Jam will feature Zapp, Midnight Star, The Jets, GQ and The Delfonics. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, you’ll want to soft-rock all night, because Air Supply (upper right) will be performing. I’m sure Air Supply is hoping for a big resurgence similar to the one that soft-rock contemporary Toto is enjoying having right now … but actually, Air Supply is doing just fine without a Weezer cover and without any memes, because Air Supply has sold more than 20 million copies of its greatest-hits record and is still highly in demand. Tickets are $40 to $60. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a few shows booked for the showroom in February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, comedian Felipe Esparza (below) will be performing. You might remember him from his performances on Comics Unleashed and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, as well as other TV and film appearances. He currently has a hilarious Netflix special out. Tickets are $30 to $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, Mexican singer-songwriter Pancho Barraza will take the stage. Barraza is a performer of traditional Mexican music. Tickets are $65 to $85. Now for something different … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, a comedy play titled A Oscuras Me da Risa will be performed. It’s a multi-character comedy about a happy couple going on a weekend getaway and going their own separate ways. Tickets are $36 to $91. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some must-see shows, per usual. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15, psychedelic rock-band La Luz will be performing. I recently gave La Luz’s new album Floating Features a listen, and it’s fantastic. This should be a great show—and is a must for any rock fan. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, the alt-countryish band Evangenitals will be back. As I always say, you haven’t lived ’til you’ve seen the Evangenitals play. Stick around for their multiple sets, especially the last one at the end of the night. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry … wait, you won’t cry, but you’ll laugh hysterically. Admission is free! At 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, Pearl and the Canyon Revelry Band will be performing. Pearl Aday (daughter of Meat Loaf) has quite a set of pipes, and at a young age was a backing vocalist in her dad’s band. She’s been performing country and released her debut album in 2010; she just released a new album, Heartbreak and Canyon Revelry. My metal-loving friend Frank pointed out that her husband is Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian—so you might catch a glimpse of him at the show. Tickets are $10. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is definitely a nice place to consider taking that special someone to for dinner and a show. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, singer Jonathan Karrant will be performing. Karrant is known for his “Hollywood’s greatest hits”-style show, as he performs songs by Burt Bacharach, Michel Legrand and many others. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, Broadway star and vocalist Roslyn Kind will take the stage. The half-sister of Barbra Streisand has toured the globe performing with Babs and her nephew, Jason Gould. Tickets are $45 to $55. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, cabaret performer and singer Iris Williams will be performing. Her jazzy vocals on up-tempo numbers and her ballads will be a treat to hear. Tickets are $40 to $45. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge and Cabaret has a February event worth noting. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, Feb. 16, pop-country singer Steve Grand will take the Toucan’s stage. You’ll probably remember him as the singer of “All-American Boy,” a song about a gay man in love with a straight man, which went viral on YouTube. The gay country singer has since found continued success; he’s no stranger to the Palm Springs area, having performed at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s Center Stage gala in 2016. Tickets are $35 to $45. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; reactionshows.com.

Published in Previews

There was not much evidence that Snoop Lion, aka Snoop Dogg, aka Snoopzilla, was serious about going reggae (as part of his 2012 conversion to Rastafarianism) when he performed at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, Jan. 11.

His first local performance since Coachella 2012 (when he played with Dr. Dre) was supposed to start at 8 p.m.; however, the show didn’t start until 8:45. Thankfully, what followed was well worth the wait: Snoop showed the enthusiastic crowd that he was still on top of his game.

After a lengthy intro performed by his full band and DJ, Snoop finally took the stage. He soon launched into “California Gurls,” performing his parts in the Katy Perry song. After getting the crowd dancing and grooving to “I’m Fly” and “Ups and Downs,” he transitioned into the classic material for which he’s best known.

The crowd gave him a loud reception when he went into “The Next Episode” from Dr. Dre’s 2001. “Gin and Juice,” one of Snoop’s biggest hits, easily received the crowd participation demanded by Snoop. Of course, no Snoop performance is complete without “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None),” which had his costumed mascot “Nasty Dogg” dancing around and stroking a long, furry appendage. (When Snoop finished the song, he told Nasty Dogg to “put it away.”)

The show’s biggest highlight was his tribute to Notorious B.I.G. with a cover of “Hypnotize,” followed by a tribute to 2Pac with “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” Considering Snoop’s involvement in the East Coast-West Coast feuds in the ‘90s that resulted in the murders of both Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, it was a touching tribute.

After a cover of House of Pain’s “Jump Around” (which, of course, Snoop ended on the line “I’m smacking the ho”), it was time for “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” I swore that I heard him say “pocket like it’s hot” from his recent Hot Pockets commercial once or twice.

Following the classic “Who Am I (What’s My Name?),” Snoop said it was time for one last song before he took off. After performing “Young, Wild and Free,” Snoop ended the show by saying, “I can’t go out like that” and screamed: “SMOKE WEED, MOTHAFUCKAS!” He then made his exit, waving to the crowd as Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” played.

After more than two decades in the rapidly changing rap game, Snoop still puts on an energetic and highly entertaining show that fans both young and old can love. Nothing from his recent reggae album Reincarnated showed up in the set list—although every other part of his career was represented—and he wasn’t decked out in Rastafarian garb like he was during some performances last year. It seems Snoop can’t escape his hip-hop roots, no matter how hard he tries: While he expermients with other genres of music, those roots always seem to find him again.

Published in Reviews