Dope, is a film that will hopefully widen the world’s view on the power of perception. After checking it out this past weekend, I can say it definitely features a lot of ups and down moments, hungry green actors, and a fun story to tie it all together thanks to director Rick Famuyiwa. He definitely made sure to grant opportunities for new faces to the big screen including Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Rakim Mayers (A$AP Rocky), Kiersey Clemons, Chanel Iman, Quincy Brown, Zoë Kravitz, Casey Veggies, Vince Staples and even managed to grab some veterans in Blake Anderson, De’audre Bonds, Kimberly Elise, Rick Fox, and Roger Guenveur Smith. What’s also cool about the film is the all-star team behind the production of the project is on point, which features Pharrell Williams, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, and Forest Whitaker.
The plot of the story is built up around the characters Malcolm, Jib, and Diggy, who are all high school seniors obsessed with old school hip hop and geeking out. They all live together in “The Bottoms,” or in the real world, Inglewood, CA. They’re all in a band together called the Awreeoh and spend a ton of time together performing their songs Can’t Bring Me Down, Go Head, Don’t Get Deleted, and It’s My Turn Now. Although they like to jam out, they find themselves in a predicament after going to a drug dealer’s party. While at the party, Dom (A$AP Rocky) stashes drugs and a gun into Malcolm’s backpack to prevent serving a heavier sentence in prison. Without telling much of the story, Malcolm finds the drugs and the gun in his backpack and he and his friends band together to find a way to get rid of it for a greater cause. This sends them on a streak of adventures throughout the city, running into several different characters that liven up their summer.
The acting throughout the film for the most part was pretty legit. For a lot of the actors to be newcomers to the film they all shined in their own way. I have to say I was most impressed with how in control Shameik Moore was in conveying his emotions throughout the entire film. You can def expect some odd moments but the cinematography will make you easily get over those moments, as it’s beautiful. Also, on the up and up, at least you get to see the beautiful Chanel Iman have a great time in her debut film. I’ll just say keep your eyes peeled sur la BET Uncut like.
The story for the most part was pretty decent; it has a few quirks that were oddly worked out one way or another, but somehow Famuyiwa made sure to keep everyone in the theater engaged throughout the whole film. Which is almost a lost art that many directors ignore when creating a film. So kudos to Rick for making sure to create a film that didn’t make me go to sleep 20 minutes into watching it.
Last but not least, the music was dope man! I mean that literally like Pharrell really went in with this soundtrack featuring many classics from the past including Scenario – LP Mix by A Tribe Called Quest, Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat) by Digable Planets, The World Is Yours by Nas, Home is Where the Hatred Is by Gil Scott-Heron, The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground, etc. He also managed to have some awesome tracks in there by Awreeoh and other new artists, which was nice. The only caveat that came to mind when watching the film was there wasn’t much westcoast music in the film. There were a lot of dope 90s westcoast tracks that I thought could’ve made the cut for the film soundtrack. Some that I might’ve added would’ve been, Keep Ya Head Up by 2Pac, I Get Around by 2Pac, Boyz-N-The-Hood by N.W.A., It Was A Good Day by Ice Cube, Dippin’ by King Tee, and more.
Courtesy of Deepest Dream check out their insightful interview with Kiersey Clemons & Tony Revolori speaking on Pharrell and his work on sharing the songs with them to use for the Awreeoh songs.
Overall, the film was definitely a fun, drama-filled movie. Throughout the whole film you can see how Famuyiwa challenged all of the viewers in the theater to choose their own view on how they were perceiving everything shown on the screen. This was accomplished in several ways, whether he allowed you to see that some drugs deals are approachable and human, kids in the inner-city are not all bad, and/or by showing you that the power of your thoughts premeditates what you see in people before even getting to know them. There is also a gang of comical surprises in the film as well so be ready for a few gut busting laughs.
If you haven’t seen the film yet, do know that this is definitely date worthy and will give you a lot of things to talk about over dinner. It’s also a great film to peep with your homies. Grab your tickets here. Although this was not the next Friday, The Wood or Baby Boy, this will definitely be one of the westcoast films we will be checking out years from now.
In the spirit of westcoast films here’s a scene that’ll get your ready for the film.
Acting score 7
Story score 7
Music & SFX score 8