Written by Dalton Brown
‘Dope’ was a movie I decided to watch when there was nothing left for me to see; that should tell you exactly how much I cared about this film beforehand. However, having seen it, I can now happily say that it was actually a rather cool flick and one which I am glad to have had the pleasure of watching.
Nevertheless, this movie is kinda hard to explain, due to the fact it has two “major” plots. Plot one introduces us to Malcolm (Shamiek Moore), a smart kid with an obsession for 90s rap culture. He is a nerd. His friends, Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori), are also nerds. One night, the three of them attend a drug dealer’s party and that’s what starts this chain of unfortunate events. You see, somebody stuffs some drugs into Malcolm’s backpack at the party and it is then Malcolm who has to deliver said drugs. The secondary plot focusses on Malcolm’s desire to get into Harvard, but due to the fact that he’s a black kid living on the wrong side of Inglewood, this is a highly unlikely ambition.
Everybody’s performance in ‘Dope’ is absolutely incredible, specifically Shamiek Moore’s performance. He plays the archetypal “nerd” role quite well and with such poise. Tony Revolori’s performance was my favourite though – he was the immature one who was mainly just there for comedic effect. With that being said, his character might bug some viewers, but I was okay with him and he gave the movie a certain charm. Then there’s Diggy who, for the most part, didn’t really do much aside from basic existence. Don’t get me wrong, I thought that her character was cool, but the script didn’t really give her much to work with. Still, she did great with what she had.
Besides the stellar performances, I was really impressed by the story (or stories, rather) at the heart of it all. ‘Dope’ had many things going on at once, but it never got complicated. I was also a big fan of the film’s soundtrack – my favorite song being “Can’t Bring Me Down” by Awreeoh – though I will say that although I love the aforementioned song, it is kinda overplayed throughout the movie.
The only aspect of the film which I could claim to be disappointed with, was the cinematography style, mainly because nothing particularly stood out or pushed any boundaries. Still, there was nothing that really needed to stand out, so this minor gripe can be annulled. The thing that really caught my eye and earned my appreciation though, was the costume design, especially for Malcolm’s outfits. If that wasn’t enough, the opening to ‘Dope’ struck a chord with me, with a technique I haven’t seen since ‘Bee Movie’. Basically, they gave us three definitions to the word “dope”. I know that’s nothing spectacular, but it was a nice touch and one which cleverly sets up the rest of the film.
The performances were great. The main story was great and so were the frame stories. Everything about ‘Dope’ is great, basically. It’s a fun, feel-good movie that feels like a summer blockbuster disguised as an indie dramedy. Needless to say, ‘Dope’ lives up to its title by being…well, by being dope.
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Kimberly Elise