Movie Review: Dope

Another movie that I was able to watch during this rainy weekend was Dope,  a coming of age story about three friends in  Inglewood that get caught up in an adventure that none of them expected. Or really wanted for that matter. It is very similar to many others movies and is actually set in the same universe as The Wood, a 1999 movie about a set of friends coming to grips with life and romance. In fact, De’aundre Bonds plays the character of Stacey in both films.

In the movie, Shameik Moore plays Malcolm, a young African-American growing up in a bad neighborhood but with aspirations of going to Harvard and making a better life for himself. Malcolm, along with his two friends, Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), are different than any other kids around. They all love everything 90s. From music to video games to clothes, they are infatuated with that decade. They are also self-described nerds. They are in a band, make good grades in school, and talk about losing their virginity.

After a meeting with local drug dealer Dom (A$ap Rocky), Malcolm and his friends are invited to a party. But the party ends in a shootout and Malcolm ends up with a ton of MDMA, or “Molly”, in his backpack. This leads to him having to return the product to Dom, who is in jail. This leads to an adventure through Inglewood that gets the three friends chased down, shot at, and, eventually, having to question who they really are.

Dope also stars Kimberly Elise (John Q), Blake Anderson (Workaholics), Quincy Brown (Brotherly Love), Zoe Kravitz (Divergent), and Chanel Iman. The movie is directed by Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood, Brown Sugar). Famuyiwa definitely has a knack for weaving these coming of ages tales and did a great job with this film as well.

In addition to great acting and direction, the movie features great music, with Pharrell Williams producing the original music in the movie. He added a his touch to the original musi that the three main characters perform in their band, Awreeoh. In addition to the work Williams did, Dope features an amazing soundtrack filled with great 90’s songs from artists like Naughty by Nature, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, Eric B. & Rakim, Korn, Nas, Onyx, and more. The music in the movie is just as important at times as any other character and adds to the overall feel of the movie. Without this soundtrack, I don’t think Dope is nearly as enjoyable.

Overall, Dope is a fun and entertaining film. It had great qualities and it had its faults. But it was definitely an entertaining movie that many people can enjoy. Unlike other urban movies like Boyz n the Hood and Menace II Society, Dope was not as dark or brooding and had many more comedic moments. But, it did not have all of the romance associated with Famuyiwa’s other films. Dope is a great blend of comedy, love, action, and drama. And bestof all, like its main character Malcolm, it had many great references to the 90s, a time that I grew up in and look fondly at.

Daryl Karpinski, Jr.