Posted June 19, 2015 by in


Total Score

4.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: comedy, drama
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
MPAA Rating: R
Actors: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons
Length: 103 minutes
Release Date: 6-19-2015
Studio: Forest Whitaker's Significant Productions, IamOTHER Entertainment, Revolt Films, That's Dope
What We Thought

Dope challenges notions of expectations based on race and class, in a story that’s as fresh as it is entertaining.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
DopeMalcolm is a nerdy teenager, into 90’s music, and obviously still a virgin.  He has a 4.0 GPA, and yearns to go to Harvard.  He is the last person you’d expect to be in possession of $100,000 worth of dope.
     Or is he?  He’s black, comes from a single parent family, and lives in one of L.A’s ghettos.  But Malcolm (Shameik Moore, in an outstanding performance) is not some stereotype, he’s an individual—and fiercely individualistic.  He likes so-called “white people shit,” (read geeky), such as manga.  He is not the person that society expects him to be, and in the end, uses that to his advantage.
     Dope challenges notions of expectations based on race and class, in a story that’s as fresh as it is entertaining.  However, the less I say about the story, the better.  You’re never sure where the plot is going, and there’s a surprise at every turn.
     I will say that Malcolm comes across the dope accidently, and is eager to get rid of it.  His friends Diggy and Jib (Kiersey Clemons, Tony Revolori) are with him every step of the way.
 Dope    Their adventure through L.A. plays like a music video, with heavily stylized editing that energizes it.  The aesthetic is appropriate, given that it’s about young people, and is told from their point of view.
     But Dope has as much in substance as it does in style, offering compelling social commentary.  A coming-of-age story, Dope is the mirror image of Risky Business, which is similarly about a squeaky-clean teenager with aspirations of attending an Ivy league school, who likewise stumbles into illegal activity.  A film about white privilege, Tom Cruise’s character is expected to go to a prestigious university. Dope on the other hand is about being underprivileged, and Malcolm is expected not to.
     It’s a sad state of affairs, but Dope approaches the subject with an intelligent sense of humor that refuses to give in to despair.  The dialog is witty, and has the tangentiality of a real conversation.  At the same time, it’s a tense film, capturing the very real danger that Malcolm is in, who threatened by drug dealers on one side and the police on the other.  It’s a tricky balancing act, but writer-director Rick Famuyiwa has the acumen to pull both comedy and drama in a single film.
     I was hooked on Dope from the first minute to its final frame.  Fun, fresh, energetic and intelligent, Dope is a must-see.  4.5 stars out of 5.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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