Genre: Comedy | Crime | Drama
Directed by: Rick Famuyiwa
Starring: A$AP Rocky, Shameik Moore, Kiersy Clemons
Written by: Rick Famuyiwa
Synopsis: Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who’s surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure (IMDB)
The 80’s and 90’s has its appeal to the masses. You see the trend happening in fashion and on the screen. Audiences can’t help but to favor the nostalgia of watching a film that kind of brings them back or at least gives them that old school flavor. “Dope” was rife with implementing feeling (minus the obvious smart phones and technology which can’t be escaped). Vintage material has its appeal, if executed properly. It can either turn good or bad. Unfortunately sometimes it’s pushed too much making it obvious that it is being way too overdone. For a movie with its executive producer as Sean Combs, I’d say that it was fairly done with minor drawbacks.
“Dope” features its motley crew of geeky main characters that go to high school in Inglewood, California. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Southern California neighborhoods, lets just say they live on the rough side of the tracks. However that doesn’t deter them from wanting to continue into higher education, which actually leads to the main plot point where we are introduced to Malcolm (Shameik Moore) on his journey to getting into his dream school: Harvard. He’s followed by his friends with their own quirky 21st century hipster/nerdy/outcast characteristics. There is Job (Tony Revolori) the token Indian guy who clearly identifies with hip hop culture, and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) the boyish lesbian of the crew.
I say 21st Century “nerd” in a sense that to be a “nerd” nowadays is different than what a nerd was described as in the 80’s or 90’s which was not known to be “cool” back then. I’d say that these “nerds” are clearly Hollywoodised because let’s face it, no one wants to see truly unattractive, pimply faced people on the big screen. In fact these kids in real life would probably be in the “in crowd” (I mean they are in a band!) but for the sake of the movie and plot, I’ll give it a pass. So Malcolm and his friends have all the 90’s gear including cassette tapes, Nike high tops and others to name. The leader of the crew Malcolm takes a liking to a girl he sees in passing within his neighborhood, Nakia (Zoe Kravitz). He first has a conversation with her thanks to drug dealer Dom (A$AP Rocky) who insists that he invites her to his birthday party.
So because of his successful invite, Dom invites Malcolm and his friends to his party where they encounter a series of unfortunate events. A big fight breaks out at the nightclub and Malcolm has caught the cause of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. After the party he finds out that in his backpack there is a handgun, phone and drugs stashed in his backpack. It goes to show how much of a good student he is when he passes the metal detector and the school security guard notices it going off but lets him pass. Speaking of the security guard, those of you who are fans of The Wood will find out that this movie and that are in the same world. Here’s a clue, you’ll find out the fate of the character Stacy and his whereabouts.
Okay back to the movie. So this movie fits in a really weird category as it goes from being kind of a Boyz In The Hood like drama to sort of becoming a parody as a comedy. Then comes the crime insertion with angry drug dealers and crooked professionals. At times it was funny, but other times I felt as if it was trying too hard with the comedy which I mentioned before can be the downfall of any film. It either purposely or accidentally paid homage to Paul Brickman’s Risky Business and Doug Liman’s Go. It has the typical geeky but good hearted teen that somehow gets caught up in a difficult situation.
Even though the Director tried to give it a nostalgic feel, we quickly see the 21st century humor put in there where there is a scene with one of the dealers located Malcolm because of the “Find Your iPhone” feature.
Dope does a good job of mixing all of the genres together. You really do feel Malcolm’s pain when it comes to being caught in unfortunate situations and trying to do what’s right with good intentions but on the downside, you keep having bad circumstances coming your way. I know we can all relate to that and the director did a good job in projecting that. At times it did feel as if things were jumbled because this movie is a mixed genre. The subplots prove this statement to be true as they appear random.
I mentioned Risky Business before. There’s also a dose of Superbad with the main characters you love end of with bad luck during the middle but then you root for them all in the end despite their imperfections. Overall Dope is a fun and enjoyable watch.
- Acting - 8.5/108.5/10
- Cinematography - 8/108/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 8/108/10
- Setting/Theme - 8.5/108.5/10
- Buyability - 10/1010/10
- Recyclability - 8/108/10