Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dope - Movie Review

Dope is a coming of age film both written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa who's previous efforts include The Wood, and Brown Sugar. The features a very talented cast which includes Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Rakim (A$ap Rocky) Mayers, Blake Anderson, Quincy Brown, Kimberly Elise, Rick Fox, Chanel Iman, Zoë Kravitz, Roger Guenveur Smith, Tyga, and Forest Whitaker.

The Story:
Malcolm (Moore) isn't your average teenager growing up in Inglewood, California as he is more likely to be seen rocking 90's hip hop fashion and singing punk rock tunes alongside band mates Diggy (Clemons) and Jib (Revolori). After getting caught up in a nightclub raid and ending up with a bag full of contraband, the three friends must find a way to outwit drug dealers, gang bangers, police officers, teachers, and classmates before any of them find out just how much trouble they have found themselves in.

The Review:
Dope is cold, funky, fresh. This might be the best way to describe a film that expresses it's love of 90's hip hop culture by placing it right in the middle of a more modern setting. Famuyiwa fills his movie with a ton of nostalgia including a soundtrack that will take you back to what I consider to be a much better time in urban music's rich history. This film is sort of a grab bag of visual styles taking cues from classics like Boyz in the Hood without blatantly ripping them off and really does a great job of showing a more modern and realistic take on urban culture. It's nice to see a film maker who has a real sense of what today's kids are actually going through and what they see as cool which seems to change with every selfie and Snapchat post they happen to stumble upon.

While the music and the nostalgia keep things lighthearted and there are more than a few genuinely funny moments. this movie also contains some serious messages about how the future of America sees the world and. Famuyiwa doesn't fill his story with caricatures and stereotypes, he takes those ideas and turns them on their head. It was really cool to watch a scene where gang members are having a conversation about global events or others where the blurred lines of race come into play within culture, language, and art. There are so many styles, elements, and rhythms to this movie, it really is the embodiment of the 90's hip hop culture it is so clearly drawn from.

The cast of this film was put together nicely and includes a mix of established actors, fresh faces, and even a few people more known for their music like Rakim Mayers who is more commonly known as A$ap Rocky. The three leads, Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, and Kiersey Clemons have been perfectly put together and they easily give you the impression that their characters have been friends for as long as they can remember. Moore and Clemons are young talents who we should see a lot of moving forward while Revolori continues to build his resume after debuting in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Verdict:
Dope is a really fun and original movie that will keep you laughing and dancing in your seat from beginning to end. If you like movies that are fresh, innovative, and don't follow the standard blueprint followed by film maker x, y, and z, then you definitely want to check this out. Dope could easily be considered the film maker equivalent of a DJ mashup track as it takes the best of what once was and mixes it with what's happening now to make a whole new experience that everyone can enjoy.


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