Riding that nostalgia train hard, Dope manages to both entertain and educate despite its zany story. Creative and authentic, it’s trying to redefine the modern African-American comedy genre now populated almost entirely by Tyler Perry. I swear I was half-expecting him to show up here in some minor role. This is not only a coming-of-age movie but also a hood movie. And while the main story is quite familiar, all these little details just keep piling up. A line here and there, a couple of important locations, and other interesting concepts keep popping up. All the while maintaining the atmosphere and the vibe of a hilarious comedy. And just in case you didn’t get the message, there will be one at the end.
This brings us to the director of this movie, Rick Famuyiwa, who tried to make an incredibly complex movie. And you could say he pulled it off, but to me, the execution was just too clumsy at times. All this being said, you should know Dope is a fun and entertaining comedy. I was just trying to go a bit deeper because that’s where the vibe led me. If you’re looking to have a few laughs and enjoy the glorious soundtrack, you will love this movie. It’s very charming and reminiscent of Superbad and Dazed and Confused. So, we got that coming-of-age vibe going on dealing with issues like sexuality friendship, drugs, being cool, and everything else you should know. And then you get older and realize the world is just one huge clusterfuck and that no one cares.
Malcolm Adekanbi and his friends Jib and Diggy really love 90s hip-hop, exploring the culture every chance they get. But then, a chance encounter with a local drug dealer called Dom will change Malcom’s life forever. He meets Nakia, a very hot girl who seems to be already spoken for by none other than Dom. However, soon this will change as all of them are about to enter the shitstorm called Dope…
The thing about Dope is that you shouldn’t overanalyze it. Like I just did in those opening paragraphs. You just need to dip your toe in the concepts explored here and stick to the comedy and characters. The cast was excellent, although Shameik Moore was a bit flat for my taste, I don’t know. It could be that Tony Revolori and Kiersey Clemons were just so good that in comparison to them, his performance felt a bit off. ASAP Rocky was surprisingly good as Dom and there’s another little curiosity prompting you to check out this movie. I should also say that if you get high, it will go down much easier. It reminded me of Next Day Air, featuring almost the same story with a bit older protagonists. Only it doesn’t have bitcoin as a major plot device.
As I’m reading everything I wrote so far, I’m realizing that I was just too hard on a movie that has everything I love. It’s got a socially conscious message, great characters, raunchy humor, drugs, and it’s even got a decent amount of nudity! Additionally, I also liked the whole technological angle. I mean, this is one of the first movies to use Bitcoin as a major part of the plot. And you’ve also got GPS tracking, hacking, and loads of other shit. Not to mention the fact this is essentially a movie about outcasts, people who simply don’t fit in the assigned tribal roles. What more to want from a comedy?
Finally, Dope is not the first nor it will be the last comedy dealing with these issues. House Party came out in 1990 featuring a similar concept and vibe, followed by Class Act and High School High. And then you have the Wayans brothers masterpiece Don’t Be a Menace, probably the best hood comedy to date. I also can’t help mentioning Ali G Indahouse that’s not a hood movie per se but it explores the white fascination with hip hop and all the other things in a very funny and intelligent way.