Release Day: June 19th 2015
CAST: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoe Kravitz, A$AP Rocky, Chanel Iman, Quincy Brown
DIRECTOR/WRITER: Rick Famuyiwa
PRODUCERS: Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Pharrell Williams, Michael Y. Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, David Lonner
CO-PRODUCERS: Mimi Valdés, Caron Veazey
CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Sean Combs
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, drug material, language and some thematic elements)
Official Sites: Web | Twitter
A critical hit and audience favorite out of the Sundance Film Festival, in DOPE, Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself.
Dope is the new coming of age film about a group of friends trying to survive their adolescence in a rough neighborhood at the same time that they are planning the rest of their lives. You may have heard this film referred to as Pharrell Williams' movie. Williams is the executive producer. Forest Whitaker is also associated with this film. He's the producer. Other than the two producers, the film is mostly made-up of a fresh cast of unknowns.
Dope stars Shameik Moore as Malcolm, a young man obsessed with the 1990's hip-hop culture who is determined to get out of his neighborhood, "The Bottoms." Through a series of outlandish events, Malcolm finds himself in a predicament that puts him at risk and threatens to ruin his future. I haven't seen Moore in any film before. I don't know if he's ever had a starring role, but he does a great job on Dope. He has a very likable personality. I appreciate how well he played the the hip-hop geek role. He's too young to know anything about the 1990s, but he played the role and quoted lyrics without flaw. The cast overall had good chemistry, making the film entertaining.
I liked the message of the movie. It's not an original message, but I liked the context. Don't judge a book by its cover. I had flashbacks of The Breakfast Club; we are all a princess, a basket case, a criminal, a jock, and a brain, except here we are in a crime-infested situation where one can get killed for no reason in particular. The setting ups the ante. Malcolm takes serious risks because those risks are his only chance of getting out of his situation. I always like underdog stories. Anyone whose ever found themselves in an impossible situation will be able to relate.
And while the message is real and, at times, serious, it isn't preachy. I hate when a film tries to shove its message down my throat. Dope does a the delicate dance of weaving the message into the movies' nuances, and wonderfully makes its point.
All in all, it's an enjoyable film, one that is worthy of being sought-out. It doesn't have the giant fanfare that some of the giant studios, but it's good to encourage smaller, more original films. I especially enjoyed all of the Nineties references. Go see Dope in theaters now.