dope poster

‘Dope’ Review by Nathan Gordon

First Words

Generic question time! Is ‘Dope’ dope? That’s just a natural question that is bound to pop up in your head whenever you see the title of the movie. In my opinion, once the (dancing) end credits roll, the answer to that question blatantly obvious.


Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is a “geek” (I don’t understand why he’s referred to as a geek by the way. Just because he’s smart, doesn’t have much friends and dresses like a 90s hip-hop head? whatever) who is just trying to get into Harvard, make music with his two friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and survive his tough neighborhood. Those plans become more challenging, though, after he accidently gets his hands on some drugs while attending the birthday party of a local drug dealer. Now Malcolm and his friends must figure out what exactly to do with this new unwanted burden or they can kiss whatever future plans they had goodbye.

Yeah, I Liked That

Man…where to start. ‘Dope’ is just one of those movies’ that is just a fun and cool watch throughout. Things get started right at the beginning when three different definitions of dope are given, which kind of foreshadows what elements you’re going to see play apart in the movie. Move just a few steps ahead into the movie and the humor is already on display when we’re introduced to Malcolm, Jib and Diggy. Now you don’t have to turn into Sherlock Holmes or anything like that to find more instances of funny because ‘Dope’ is filled with it. Not only do you get it from the three friends, but you get it from their stoner, hacker friend Will (Blake Anderson) (especially when he has a conversation with the trio about why he should be able to say the N-word), you get it from A$AP Rocky (who plays Dom, the local drug dealer), you get it from Rocky’s real life ex, Chanel Iman (whose character Lily becomes a viral and drug sensation) and you get some from Quincy Brown a.k.a. Diddy’s son.

Earlier, I said the movie is a fun watch throughout so the humor can’t be the only bright spot in the movie. Speaking of the humor though, one of the things that contributed to that is the chemistry the main characters had with each other. Moore, Revolori and Clemons seemed liked they were real life friends so their interactions with each other in the movie felt real and genuine (and thank goodness they didn’t have one of those typical friend spats where they stop being friends for a couple minutes of the running time). So with that, I found myself able to lose myself even more into the movie and enjoy what I was watching. What also helped with the elements of chemistry and humor was the script. Writer (and director) Rick Famuyiwa did a great job creating funny, witty dialogue that also reflected the environmental background of the characters (on top of the job he did creating the environments way of life). Take some of the slang he used, some will probably be understood by those who are familiar with the culture depicted in the movie or by those who actually live in that type of culture. I had to breakdown the reasoning for some of the words that were used to some of the people I watched it with because I was pretty sure they had no clue about what was just said.

Staying on the subject of Famuyiwa, his directing job was great as well. The vibrant colors he used at certain points, the inclusion of Forest Whitaker doing narration, having Malcolm break away from the story to speak to the viewers, the use of rewinding and fast-forwarding and more all brought interesting elements to the movie that helped it feel sort of fresh and needed at this point and time. So kudos to Famuyiwa for killing his double duties of writing and directing. Lastly, I want to speak on the music in the movie, specifically the original material. Malcolm, Jib and Diggy have their own punk-rock/hip-hop group called Awreeoh and we get to hear pieces of their songs throughout the movie. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was jammin’ to those songs. I found myself almost about to by the soundtrack off iTunes after I got done watching the movie and I don’t buy many CD’s (mainly because I’m usually kind of broke but that’s not really the point). I wasn’t surprised to learn that Pharrell (one of the movie’s executive producer) wrote all the Awreeoh songs for the movie since it seems like all he does is write hits. He should have just used those songs for like another N.E.R.D. album or something because it sounds like the music they make anyway.

Yeah, I Didn’t Like That

I don’t have any complaints about the story structure (I think the fact that it couldn’t necessarily decide what it ultimately wanted to be about was a benefit to the movie) or its possibly questionable message. What I do want to touch on is the acting throughout the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the characters a lot and there was a lot of good acting in the movie but the consistency wasn’t there. For example, Moore did a great job playing a sort of nervous, kind of shy individual (when he was away from his friends) at the beginning of the movie. Then as the movie moved forward, he began to show a more emotional character with a gaining confidence in a believable manner. So I thought he did a stand-up job but his performance wasn’t consistent. There were times that the delivery of his lines didn’t seem as strong as others. Those moments are more noticeable when you see the great performance he puts on throughout the other parts of the movie. Some of the side characters also had a lapse in their performances at times (like Brown and Zoe Kravitz) but their characters each brought something entertaining to the movie so I’m not mad at what they brought to the table.

Last Words

So to answer the earlier question, yes ‘Dope’ IS dope. It’s just an entertaining flick from start to finish so that generic phraseology just fits so perfectly whether you like it or not.

RATING: Must Own 

P.S. Once again here is my rating scale. There are four different levels. Below is each level in order from best to worse and what each one means.

Must Own = A movie that is so good that I must add it to my Blu-ray collection when it comes out.

Would Accept as a Gift = I enjoyed the movie but don’t necessarily have to buy it (especially if I don’t have the funds to) myself but I would take it if someone bought it for me.

Might Rent = A movie that if I have the urge to watch again then I’ll just rent it from somewhere or Netflix it.

Never See Again = Very simple. I don’t want to ever see this movie again.


About Author

Bio: My passion for movies probably began when my mom let me watch 'The Sixth Sense' at a young age late at night with the only light in sight coming from the TV screen. That night I was not able to sleep because I was basically traumatized by what I watched. I know I was young and scary movies usually cause people to freak out but I couldn't get over how a movie was able to effect me like that. So from then, my love for movies slowly grew and grew and is still growing til this day. My passion for doing more than just talking about movies occurred while I attended Ohio University. After graduating with a degree in Journalism, I feel I have the necessary tools I need to find my own voice and unique style. My work doesn't stop here as I've been working on my own personal blog dedicated to movies. I'm more than just a movie buff though. I also graduated from DeVry University with an Associates Degree in Web Graphic Design. With my degrees and a video production hobby, I'm just moving through life trying to bring all of my interests together. Area of Interest: Movies

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