Release Date: June 19, 2015
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Writer: Rick Famuyiwa
Cast: Shameik Moore, Rakim Mayers, Black Anderson, Bruce Beatty, De’aundre Bonds, Julian Brand, Quincy Brown, Kiersey Clemons, Kimberly Elise, Rick Fox, Christopher Glenn, Amin Joseph, Ricky Harris, Chanel Iman, Wyking Jones, Kapg, Zoe Kravitz, Allen Maldonado, Josh Meyer, Mimi Michaels, Ashton Moio, Lidia Porto
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 103 minutes
Production Company: Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions, IamOTHER Entertainment, Revolt Films, That’s Dope, Open Road Films
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Back in 99, Rick Famuyiwa’s ‘The Wood’ surprised many, becoming a cult classic that most African American communities flocked to. Now he’s back again behind the camera with another gem that turns first impressions on their head.
DOPE delivers on levels I didn’t know existed. It’s a wakeup call to all assumptions of youth and their potential future. It follows a geek named Malcolm (Shameik Moore) in his last days of high school aspiring for Harvard. He’s a new type of genius, who knows who he is, and never ceases to grow. I loved his character, never knowing what to expect, and Famuyiwa’s ability to flip the stereotype society may have unrightfully cast on someone of his stature was refreshing.
The supporting cast held weight too, and contained a worthy cameo from Famuyiwa’s past work. DOPE is even self-aware, denying the tired cliché of a fatherless child trying to make it on its own. That’s why this feels like nothing ever seen. It’s a big adventure in a small town that moves you with the characters. Their complex situations can only be resolved through the power of their friendship, and that’s what makes the relationships feel.
DOPE is also hilarious shining light on what’s popular and true. Though still isn’t perfect due to unnecessary narration, terrible pacing, and a few loose ends. It is relatable even down to making the best out of what was sure to be an inevitable defeat, and that’s what won me over. Knocking down the unexpected for Malcolm, and reintroducing his image to the real world. The delivery was over the top, and is an example of the poor pacing, but the message was respected loud and clear. Films like these are what should be filling up the theaters, and what’s done correct will be remembered for a long time.