With a risky business ending and a plot full of laughs, Dope is a great flick that appeals to everyone that’s a little different.
Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, Dope tells the story of Malcolm Adekanbi (Shameik Moore) a geeky teen living in the poor suburbs of California. Malcolm isn’t your typical teenager, he has perfect grades, he loves ’90s culture, hiphop, skateboarding and playing in his punk band AWREEOH with his friends Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori).
After a chance encounter with drug dealer Dom (A$AP Rocky) the three friends attend Dom’s birthday party so Malcolm can pursue his crush on neighbourhood hottie Nakia (Zoë Kravitz). When a backroom drug deal goes bad and the cops raid the party, Dom secretly stashes a payload of MDMA in Malcolm’s backpack. From there Malcolm, Jib and Diggy go on a wild quest in an attempt to return the drugs to their rightful owner.
Atlanta-born singer/actor/rapper/dancer Shameik Moore embodies the awkward and nerdy Malcolm. Stuttering through his lines, he is endearing, this is a career-making role for him. Kiersey Clemons and Tony Revolori are also convincing as Malcolm’s band mates and best friends. The group meshes well together and their humorous relationship was a highlight throughout the film.
On their travels throughout the sprawling suburban landscape of LA the group have many interesting and often humorous encounters with multiple colourful characters such as stoner tech head Will, played by Workaholics funny man Blake Anderson, and children of drug kingpin AJ, Jaleel and Lily (Quincy Brown and Chanel Iman) the latter becoming a viral sensation after being filmed whilst high on the MDMA.
Produced by Forrest Whittaker (and) Nina Yang Bongiovi, Dope feels like a first film, which is interesting considering it is Fumuyiwa’s fourth feature length. The plot is a little disjointed and the lack of a real antagonist is sometimes frustrating. In the end though tasteful humour and a clever use of social media, alongside amateurish style footage makes up for the small holes in the plot.
Executive producer Pharrell Williams’ soundtrack is incredible, an eclectic mix of hip-hop, pop and originals written by Pharrell and performed by AWREEOH. The music throughout this film is a real plus, it fills every scene and adds that extra something, it makes Malcolm and his buddies that more real.
Dope is a great film, it’s smart, funny, funky and definitely worth your time.
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