Dope (2015)

DopeDope Review

Dope is a 2015 crime dramedy film directed by Rick Famuyiwa and starring Shameik Moore. As an acclaimed film from Sundance Film Festival, it surely is disappointing.

It is about a high school teenager who is a geek and doesn’t belong in the dangerous part of the city where he lives. Now, the story is my major issue here. Granted, its first act is really superb. But that is why the film ended up being such a huge disappointment as it started off so incredibly good. It was a lost potential as all the character-driven, unique and a not stereotypical drama was quickly replaced by a lot of crime stuff which was typical, some weird humor and a stereotypical approach to characters. But the biggest offender is its lack of focus, especially in the ending and message execution. It doesn’t quite know what it wants to say and is stuffed with too many themes, neither of which properly explored.

Malcolm is a really good protagonist and is the best developed character in the movie for sure. Jib is also solid and Diggy is quite an authentic and realistic character. Lily is funny and has her moments and the rest are not as memorable. The character development of the trio is really good, but then again it is much better in the first half and much weaker later on where the movie loses its steam.

The acting is really good. Everyone gave a solid performance. Shameik Moore did a good job, nothing too remarkable, but he is great for a pretty unknown actor. Tony Revolori is solid and Kiersey Clemons and Chanel Iman are both really good. The performances are solid across the board and they lift the whole movie for sure.

Now, 2015 is definitely a stupendus year for teen movies, but Dope unfortunately disappointed me, especially because the potential was so great. The first act is such a great beginning and the finale is really nice, but it is so weakly edited and so lacking in focus and direction that it just never mashes particularly well together.

But the cinematography is really good and the pacing although too fast at times, is an interesting experiment nonetheless. The movie also looks really good with great camera movements and the acting is quite solid. The tone is not so deft as the comedy and drama parts do mash well together, but the crime parts not so much. The humor is solid at times, but too weird at other times. It really is hit-or-miss and the movie is overall too bombastic in style and approach. The message should have been more clear, but the dialogue is overall quite good and the script has its strengths. But in the editing department, it is very flawed. And all in all, Dope is a memorable and somewhat unique and pleasant experience, but it could have been even more authentic and impactful had it had more focus and better editing.

Dope is a disappointing movie. It has really good performances, the characters are well developed, it is well shot and memorable and the first act along with the ending are superb, but the other parts not so much as the movie loses its steam later on with the odd mix of genres, weak editing and some so-so parts. But it is problematic mostly for its lack of focus and overall lost potential in the storytelling department. It is a solid film, but one which could have been infinitely better nonetheless.

My Rating – 3.5

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      Interior & Exterior Stills from Dope

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