Review by Monique Thompson
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.
What other way to start the summer season off than with a dope movie – pun intended. Five years since his last film was released, writer Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood, Brown Sugar, Our Family Wedding) brings that good ‘ole 90’s hip-hop vibe to today’s social media obsessed culture in this new dramatic comedy, Dope.
Self-professed geeks and 90’s hip-hop lovers Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Revolori), and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) all manage to keep pretty low-key lives and reputations in their rough neighborhood in Inglewood, each accepting the fact that they just aren’t a part of the in crowd. Then comes along Dom (A$AP Rocky), a local drug dealer that invites them to a party he’s hosting. Little does the trio know, attending the party is going to take them from geeks status to criminals in no time.
The chemistry amongst the racially diverse trio meshes together really well, as in most of Famuyiwa’s films where friendships are usually a huge part of the story. Other than being geeks, they all have something else in common since the female of the three, Diggy, is a lesbian that claims to be more experienced with women than Malcolm and Jibs.
Similar to one of Famuyiwa’s other characters in the 90’s film The Wood, although Malcolm is a nerd and not like the other guys in their gang ridden neighborhood, he still manages to catch the attention of the beautiful Nakia (Kravitz) who’s working on her G.E.D. A much different role than the one she just played in the post-apocalyptic action film Mad Max: Fury Road. In terms of rapper turned actor, it’s always tricky and is usually going to go really good or really bad. No surprise, A$AP Rocky plays a drug dealer but his acting is surprisingly good, resulting in a pretty good debut acting role.
Dope moves at a very steady pace (no pun intended there), and has just the right amount of comedy and mishaps that make for a pretty solid film, without being too serious or even having too many stupid-funny moments.