Dope Screen 14 articles

Dope

2015

Dope Poster
  • [Famuyiwa is] pitting the era’s hood movies against the self-questioning buppie intellectuals of NBC’s A Different World. The film’s convoluted argument is that it’s not pitting gangstas against geeks — it’s society, it’s you, Sundance audience. Malcolm is told that his personal essay for Harvard has to be personal. It is instead self-righteous and bogusly, abstractly defensive

  • “Dope,” an eager-to-please comedy from Rick Famuyiwa, hinges on three black high school nerds from Inglewood, Calif., who accidentally and without any real ethical self-reflection become involved in a drug deal. Mr. Famuyiwa blithely traffics in toxic stereotypes and some dubious comedy (there’s a deadly shooting played for laughs and a corrupt black Harvard graduate) only to then wag a finger at the audience for ostensibly buying into the kind of stereotypes the movie has just deployed.

  • Dope’s trio of Engelwood-bred Oreos are ciphers—even the most well-developed of them, Malcolm (Shameik Moore), an ostensibly Harvard-bound, high-top fade-wearing early-90s hip-hop obsessive who, when he isn’t writing college essays about what day was Ice Cube’s “good” one or masturbating to social media photos, is unimaginatively written.

  • Dope is a drug caper, heist film, and coming-of-age saga wrapped into one, and it feels noticeably constrained by a familiar and forced holding pattern. It's abundant in gags and conversations that, while often smart, our pop culture has already proffered.

  • Strip away some of the artifice and we'd most likely be queuing up to hail this as one of the boldest, most bracingly original films of the year. As things stand, for all the meticulous attention to detail, quotably snappy (if slightly affected) dialogue and bright performances (aside from the three leads, Zoë Kravitz and A$AP Rocky, making his acting debut, are particularly good) the story simply doesn't measure up.

  • Sight & Sound: Ashley Clark
    July 31, 2015 | September 2015 Issue (p. 73)

    On one hand, it's tempting to laud Dope for broadening the ethnic, racial and socioeconomic scope of what we've come to expect from the teen-movie genre, a playing field which, as Charlie Lyne's recent documentary Beyond Clueless effectively demonstrated, is largely populated by white middle-class types. Yet the film gives Malcolm and his friends little to work with beyond cynical surface signifiers of cultural taste.

  • If I didn’t find the hilarity enough to outweigh the flaws, that’s largely irrelevant. This movie was principally touted as a certification of the worth of young black nerds onscreen and off, and whether it works is up to them.

  • Opening credit for "I am Other Entertainment" is a red flag, ditto some of the early narration - "For most geeks, a bad day might be being the butt of jokes in class [or] being beat up by a jock. But when you live in the Bottoms, a bad day might be accidentally getting killed" - but in fact this is way too goofy to be seriously didactic, more like a frantic comedy with some eye-rolling bits that make you wonder if 90s Tarantino is about to come back in fashion with the rest of the 90s nostalgia.

  • Looking for a comedy that’s just energetic and goofy and flat-out fun? Keep an eye out for Dope, which manages to put a lighthearted spin on the adventures of Inglewood kids who are trying to avoid being shot and killed by drug dealers.

  • The humor is broad and often cartoonish, but that doesn’t preclude it from being occasionally incisive. Nor, for that matter, does Dope’s breathless messiness cancel out the charm of Famuyiwa’s quick-cut filmmaking, which syncretizes slick techniques and old-school tastes.

  • A minor film on a major subject... Though there are outbursts of deadly violence and a constant risk of arrest, Famuyiwa keeps the tone light. He rushes through Malcolm’s learning curve in criminal enterprise and sketches the heart of the film in comic asides that suggest his stifled flair for satire.

  • Dope is a return to indie production for its director, Rick Famuyiwa, who has worked in and out of the Hollywood system since the mid-1990s. It has a lot of appealing elements: Moore and his co-stars, including Zoë Kravitz as an insouciant hipster, and Chanel Iman as a seductive party girl who makes a pretty lewd spectacle of herself; a euphoric, post-Tarantino soundtrack which saves its best till last; and a luscious, smokily sun-baked look from cinematographer, Rachel Morrison.

  • There’s a good reason Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope has hit Sundance like a neutron bomb. Amid the worthy coming-of-age stories and quirky romances and moody ennui, there was no way an infectiously entertaining, twisty-turny punk-comedy-thriller wasn’t going to stand out. But that it somehow manages to be all that while also offering a savvy look at race and achievement in our hyperconnected age? Boom.

  • Last month. I described it as simply a "lively comedy," giving short shrift to its passages of serious drama, social commentary, and shocking violence. Yet these forays into other genres speak to the film's energy and ambition—qualities to which I was more receptive when I saw the movie a second time. Like the early French New Wave films, Dope aspires to a mode of filmmaking that regards all genres as equally fertile grounds for creative expression.

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