Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dope (2015)

It's funny that a movie about a group of geeks fixated on 90's hip-hop culture are in a plot that also feels like something out of the 90's. You know, where a group of nerdy kids somehow get mixed up with the scary drug dealer and then spend the rest of the film trying to make everything right. It sounds kind of dumb when you look at it that way, but trust me, Dope is a much better and smarter movie than that.

Newcomer Shameik Moore carries the film as Malcom. He's an easily relatable character and you root for him from the first moment you see him. He's not a typical kid from "The Bottoms". He obsessed with 90's hip hop and culture, gets good grades, likes stuff like Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons, and plays in a punk band. Much of Malcom and friend's interests are deemed "white shit" (which I thought was hilarious) by the other kids at school, and they are picked on constantly for it.

Aside from Moore, the whole cast is great, particularly Blake Anderson and Zoe Kravitz. Anderson is mainly there for comedy relief, and he delivers, while Kravitz is a love interest for Malcom. This might be the sexiest I've seen Kravitz play before.

Without getting too much into the plot, I think the biggest takeaway point this film makes is that don't be too quick to make a snap judgement about a person because of their color or where they're from. When you lump someone in a group because of some characteristic, you sell them short. The narcissist in me points to when people label me a meathead cause I workout, but I'm probably one of the biggest geeks you'd ever meet. If you just judged me on my appearance, you'd never know that, just like if you just assumed a black teen from Inglewood was a punk or gangbanger, you'd also be wrong. This is a point Dope slams home at the end, and it's a better movie for it.

There's also some great editing, particularly when they 'rewind' to show you what happened to another group while they were away. It feels like something you seen before, but it just works better here.

While it's an extremely funny movie, director Rick Famuyiwa always manage to keep that threat of violence that exists in their world. More than a few times you are genuinely scared and concerned that these kids might not actually make it out of this mess. It gives the film a little more weight, where in lesser films like this you know that nothing is really going to happen to the characters.

Dope, simply put, is dope. This is one of those smaller films that's smart and funny, while giving you a different point of view. Highly worth a matinee, but at the time I'm writing this, I'm guessing it's likely going to be out of theaters for most of you.

4 (out of 5) Death Stars

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