Tag Archive: Craig Robinson


Review by C.J. Bunce

When Oscar gets it right, it highlights something about the current zeitgeist, not necessarily a mirror image of the social, literary, artistic, political, or technological achievements of the day, but at least a taste of it.  Do many of the nominees for the Academy Awards have that this year?  Ford v Ferrari, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, 1917, Parasite, or The Irishman?  Did they last year?  How about a story about a person trying to make a name for himself, barely getting by, trying to pay his bills, experiencing a tough go at it before he realizes his dream?  Perhaps the biggest miss of this year’s ballot is one of those timeless stories of self-made success: Dolemite is My Name.

Dolemite is My Name is a biopic and a classic underdog story.  The seemingly ageless Eddie Murphy has his best leading role and best performance of his career, playing comedian, singer, actor, and film producer Rudy Ray Moore, who found his niche in cinema in the 1970s.  Murphy as Moore is like Richard Pryor at his best.  Murphy plays Moore as Everyman, pulling together his own outgoing nature from his 1980s stand-up performances and finessing them with the benefit of years of experience into a real, believable, even heroic character.  This is the same character type we saw resonate so expertly last year with Brent Jenning’s lead character struggling to succeed after putting years into a failed career in TV’s Lodge 49.  Murphy’s range of emotion, his subtlety, his depth of struggle and effort in every look and word is exactly why you have awards for acting in the first place.  This film is a smartly scripted drama with comedy notes, written by dynamic writing duo Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Man on the Moon, Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt).  It’s backed up with costumes, hairdos, music, cars, language, and an all-around fashion fest of 1975.  If you didn’t know better you’d think this was a Quentin Tarentino film, because it gets the retro production design just right, as he has been able to do so well.  Instead it’s Craig Brewer directing, the director of Hustle & Flow, the Footloose remake, and Empire series.

Supporting Murphy is a fantastic cast, beginning with Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Lady Reed, as an immensely entertaining and sympathetic single mom, brushing off her ex as Murphy’s Rudy Ray Moore watches and learns.  Moore invites her into his partnership.  He and his friends go to the movies for laughs and walk out nonplussed.  Moore knows he can do better.  So he tries to get financing and make a movie.  His selected production staff, and the actors behind them, makes for a dream assemblage.  Keegan-Michael Key (The Predator, Tomorrowland), Craig Robinson (Mr. Robot, Hot Tub Time Machine), Mike Epps (Resident Evil, The Hangover), Tituss Burgess (The Addams Family, 30 Rock), and Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Let Me In), plus familiar faces Wesley Snipes, Chris Rock, and Snoop Dogg make for a top tier cast.  When these people are working together in an old abandoned hotel converted to a film set, you witness the same kind of camaraderie as audiences witnessed in those barber shops in Do the Right Thing and Marvel’s Luke Cage. 

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Along with the pile-on of comedies coming from CBS All Access this Fall previewed earlier here at borg.com, Fox has its own new comedies entering the mix.  In addition to the Seth McFarlane sci-fi comedy Orville (previewed here), the network is offering a new half-hour paranormal comedy, Ghosted.  Known for his offbeat comedies, Jonathan Krisel, co-creator of FX Network’s Baskets and showrunner on Portlandia, will be directing the pilot and is an executive producer on the series.

In part a spoof on The X-Files, the series stars Craig Robinson (Mr. ROBOT, The Office, Mr. Robinson, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Hot Tub Time Machine series) as Leroy Wright, the skeptic, and Adam Scott (Angie Tribeca, Parks and Recreation, Party of Five, Veronica Mars, Wonderfalls) as Max Allison, the believer, in a show about alien abductions and an underground Men in Black-inspired government agency.  Longmire’s Ally Walker is the captain of the agency.

Check out this preview for Ghosted:

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Malek Robot

USA Network’s groundbreaking television series Mr. ROBOT returned this week and proved that Season 1.0 wasn’t just a chance encounter.  The hacktivist series Season 2.0 opener arrived just as the show and lead actor Rami Malek received Emmy nominations for last year’s efforts.  Every bit as compelling as what we liked best about its freshman season, Mr. ROBOT still has it all–intrigue, paranoia, and real-world parallels that should glue all of us to our TVs for another round of drama.  And bewilderment.

Season 1.0 had a few slips with episodes and subplots, reminding us it’s not easy to maintain excellence with a program so esoteric in its direction and plotting.  So beginning the season with a strong, fresh, and still unnerving first of a two-part story arc, titled “Unmask,” is something of a relief.  The show is still jarring in its intentional lack of clarity and slow reveal of what is happening next, yet it’s in part why we keep coming back for more.

The high point makes the viewer want to go back and re-watch all of Season 1.0 to answer the question:  Have we ever seen Malek’s character Elliot actually smile or really laugh?  It’s such a rarity that it seems even Elliot’s own hallucination of his father (Christian Slater) is suddenly hesitant and fearful of him when Elliot bursts into some maniacal hysteria.  Credit goes to showrunner Sam Esmail for revisiting all the series leads in a new way as we wonder what ever happened to Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström).

MR. ROBOT -- "eps2.0_unmasking.zip" Episode 201 -- Pictured: (l-r) Craig Robinson as Ray, Rami Malek as Eliot Alderson -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/USA Network)

Carly Chaikin’s Darlene, Elliot’s sister, is more confident this year, showing what a female Elliot may look like if he ever was able to take control of his psyche.  Will she ultimately be the one to take down E Corp?

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