Dope (2015) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Writer: Rick Famuyiwa
Stars: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons

Dope really had all the right ingredients for an enjoyable 2 hour movie. Yes, I’m hitting the ground running with this review based on the plot, the writing and the structure of the story of a young man named Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his two friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) who are all geeks surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party which leads them into a Los Angeles adventure.

Dope really is the story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time but somehow everything working out for the better in the long run and more importantly, lessons to be learned. Yes it has that sense of coming of age element to it but what I enjoyed mostly about this movie was the dark humour thanks to a top notch script. The films writers appear to take you on this journey and enjoy every scene as if you are living it in the moment and not getting too anxious or impatient to see where we are going. To me that is the true magic in writing a grounded and believable story. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. For whatever reason when the person in the directors chair is also the writer of the film it always nearly works and especially in lower budget movies.

A lot of time was spent on introducing these characters and at no point did it feel like time was wasted. In fact the simple plot of the movie if it wasn’t told correctly would have been over very quickly. In these cases, it allows the writer to expand on their characters and I felt Famuyima did a really good job of not just main three characters but the supporting characters.

Shameik Moore as Malcolm showed great maturity in his performance and balanced the seriousness of his situation with great intensity but also his timing and delivery of the humour underlining the movie perfectly. Tony Revolori is probably best know for his role in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” but in “Dope” as Jib was very funny and witty which seems to suit his acting abilities. Don’t get me wrong, the character of Jib could easily have ruined the tone of the movie if it was handled differently in say playing him as a silly side character for comic relief. Thankfully though Revolori understood what was required of him and was a great addition to the story. Much can be said of Kiersey Clemons who played Diggy. Clemons nails her character and much the same as Jib adds the right amount of humour when necessary to the movie at the right time.

Famuyima captured lightening in a bottle with the main three of Moore, Revolori and Clemons in Dope but an added quality of Zoë Kravitz as Nakia, Rakim Mayers as Dom and the brilliant Blake Anderson as Will Sherwood gives the movie also and added depth. There isn’t much more to say about these characters other than they served as plot devices to the storyline at the correct moments but nevertheless all played memorable characters.

Dope is a highly entertaining movie that had a dark humour around it but in a realistic way. The plot was never bizarre or desperate at any point and the filmmakers you could tell believed in the project with great confidence. It was interesting to notice names such as Forest Whitaker, Pharrell Williams and Sean Combs all attached to some degree in the production and gives the movie some credibility as a low budget independent film. If you haven’t seen “Dope” yet I can’t recommend it enough as one of those under the radar films that once you have watched it you will be glad you did.

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