Film Review: Dope

Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, and Shameik Moore in Dope (Image © Open Road Films) 

Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, and Shameik Moore in Dope (Image © Open Road Films) 

Dope is a really, really fun film. That is a fact. But it is flawed. The question is, will the flaws keep you from enjoying it? I don’t think so.

At its heart, Dope is a coming of age movie. It’s about discovering your true potential in a world where very few people care about you. I know this is going to sound really strange, but it’s part Boyz n the Hood and part Human Traffic.

Set in Inglewood California, it follows Malcolm (Shameik Moore) as he tries to navigate his last months of high school, enjoy time with his friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and get into Harvard all while being the proverbial “fish out of water.”

When I say fish out of water I mean it. These three kids live the 90’s scene. They believe that rap was at its best during that decade, dress in bright colors (Malcolm also rocks an awesome flat top), ride skateboards and have a punk band.

Despite being so different they enjoy their lives as typical teenagers do. They joke around, dodge jocks and generally do teenage things.

The shit hits the fan when Malcolm develops a crush on a beautiful older woman, Nakia (Zoe Kravitz), and one thing leads to another until he finds himself with several bags of drugs. This wouldn’t be so bad if he just had to give them back, but instead he has to sell them all. Basically, the entire film is a series of oft-hilarious unfortunate events.

I referenced Human Traffic because the two movies share a certain style. Voice-overs, flash-backs, and quick-cuts do a great job of filling the viewer in on details as well as adding a whole lot of humor to the procedings.

As for Boyz n the Hood, there are certain similarities where our protagonist has to make choices in certain parts of the film. Sure, Dope is much lighter in tone but the similarities are there.

As for the details, the acting is fun, the characters are all entertaining and the writing is fantastic. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the music. Pharrell executive produced the film and got a lot of classic songs into the soundtrack as well as a few new songs from himself. I’m honestly excited about getting my hands on the soundtrack.

Oh, the flaws I mentioned? There were a few continuity errors that bugged me for some reason and one or two points that felt too heavy-handed in such a fun film, but trust me, the flaws can be ignored. In fact, there’s a soliloquy in the film that works so well I think everyone should see the film just for that part.

All in all, Dope is, well dope. The adjective, not the noun.