Dope Review: Dope

Chad White, Fits in with this movie

Not one of them other niggas

A movie that begins with a clear description of “white shit” has to be completely confident in its message. But what happens when a movie isn’t trying to force said message down the viewer’s throat? You end up with a film that is able to not only be smart but also cool and bold. Dope is an anomaly in movies. It has black leads with no real acting history; it’s set in a predominately black location while not being overtly stereotypical; it’s got a simple story of overcoming the odds yet it’s never clichéd. Dope is a modern day Boyz In The Hood with its message and setting but stands out as a sure to be cult classic with equal parts comedic action and tense moments.

Malcom (played by graduated Incredible Crew member Shameik Moore) is a nerdy kid whose alliance is more with the nineties landscape of hip-hop, grunge and punk rock. His friends – the lesbian Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and ethinic looking Jib (Tony Revolori) – spend their days dreaming of one day being the cool kids. The gang is out in Inglewood trying to survive the onslaught of bullies, gang members and drug dealers while also retaining a sense of diversity among them. Malcom is not able to avoid these things as he gets wrapped up in a drug selling operation thanks to A$AP Rocky’s Dom.

Casting is well done with the kids living up to, even exceeding, that of Boyz. Shameik Moore does a fine job of portraying a teenager trying to make it in a city that doesn’t accept him. If you ever felt out of place in any facet of life, it’s easy to relate. The rest of the cast is able to carry the weight of a nicely written script that is able to exactly get what this world is. Had this movie been done by, say, Tyler Perry, there would be hundreds of stereotypes and hauntingly bad elements that would ruin the message. Writer/Director Rick Famuyiwa is able to tread the lines of parody and realism in one swoop. Never at any point is the audience pandered to or treated like small children. There aren’t any points where pitch forks are rallied.

While not being dramatic, Dope does give the viewer some stress. When the drug escapades ramp up, the characters seem to be in real danger. Throughout the movie, Malcom changes in a way that makes you miss the opening’s original character. But this is what growth is. He changes based on the situations around him. By the end, Malcom is no longer the nerdy kid we previously met; he’s a hustler, thug, geek, schemer, loser, and cool guy all in one.

Should you watch Dope?

Dope is one of a kind. It’s a coming of age classic that will surely not get the attention it deserves. But, in all honesty, it probably doesn’t need much. This is not a feel good movie. Dope accurately portrays a world where black kids are only seen as black kids with any attempts to break from the norm treated as “betrayal.” This is the kind of movie 2015 America needs. Go see it. Tell your friends. Support it.

 

Notes

  • I love “white shit.” Rock music (which WAS actually black), the food, the clothes, women. All of it.
  • It took some deliberation when writing out the subhead to the review. I feel comfortable leaving it.
  • A$AP Rocky needs to be nominated for an Oscar. If Juicy J can get one, maybe a better rapper can get one too.
  • Shameik was on the Cartoon Network sketch series Incredible Crew. I used to hate him on that show and now I just want to be best friends with him.
  • Zoe Kravitz please marry me. The same goes for Chanel Iman. Jesus, the women in this movie.
  • Blake Anderson really wants to use the N word but they won’t let him. There’s a short digression the movie takes in explaining the situation. You’ll love it.
  • Rick Fox shows up, unannounced, for maybe thirty seconds.
  • Tyga? What are you doing here.