The 90s make their comeback but not quite the way you’d think in Dope, directed by Rick Famuyiwa, following high school kid Malcolm, a self confessed geek and 90s obsessive whose life changes after he goes to an underground party with his friends, the film stars Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons.
Dope has an interesting set up and if you’re already thinking it is, it’s not a 90s film but firmly set in the modern day but centred around Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), geeks who love 90s culture and represent it in the way they dress, the music they listen to and how they talk, they’re geeks but endearingly naive when it comes to the streets, despite their intelligence, making them stand out among their peers. But in this case, standing out isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Dope is a film with some clear style to it, from the snappy and well written dialogue between Malcolm and his friends, to how the film depicts social media and the internet, there’s a nice charm to the film and it embraces its quirky, often over the top tone in what really is a high school crime drama.
There are some clearly bad role model characters present including Dom played by rapper A$AP Rocky who’s actually surprisingly good in the role and comes across as quite natural, same goes for Zoe Kravitz, who’s also good but not really that important to the plot as things out and seeing her involved some more would have been fun.
The main 3 friends are the highlights of the film though, Shameik Moore as Malcolm is a great fit for the role and he pulls off the insecure geek stereotype believably well and overall the performances in the film are all solid and actually quite funny, even with relation to some side characters like coke addict Will Sherwood played by Blake Anderson, a kooky and pretty nutty friend and aide to Malcolm and his friends. While a whole sequence with Jaleel (Quincy Blake) is one of the funniest things in a very funny film. Part of that humour comes from some pretty crazy situations that Malcolm and co unwittingly find themselves in and you get a fish out of water type structure for the characters, with a scene with Malcolm and a girl that made me think of Superbad.
Admittedly, the story is a bit weird and with the way Malcolm and his friends are set up as non conformist 90s lovers, you may question why they do the things they do later in the the film, but characters do develop and grow, namely Malcolm who learns how to play the other side to his own advantage. The story definitely goes to some unexpected places with a few plot arcs that don’t really go anywhere and there are a ideas touched on that aren’t properly developed but the central message that underlines the film is a positively good one – people are complex and can be more than one thing, with a plot that entertainingly snakes its way around in conveying that message.
. Has some pretty funny moments
. Well written dialogue/character interactions
. Rather unique plot, feels a bit random towards the end