When I first saw Dope, it was at the Sundance Film Festival, and I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I knew that Diddy and Pharrell were involved, and I knew that it had promise, but I thought there was certainly potential for it to fall flat and fail to live up to the hype. Boy was I wrong.
I find it difficult to compare Dope to other movies in its genre. Mostly because this movie really has no genre to begin with. It comes from the perspective of the often-overloooked "nerd out of water", set in The Bottoms - a famously crime-riddled neighborhood in Inglewood, CA (Los Angeles). Rather than focusing too heavily on that crime element, it shows how regular nerdy kids come out of there just as often as gang-bangers and street dwellers.
That was probably my favorite part about Dope. As a nerdy black dude from LA, I could relate to it, but I think any person who's ever felt a little bit out of place (in any environment, really) can easily dig this movie. It's more powerful than you would ever imagine, given the comedic elements, and it also has legitimate action-sequences that engages the audience as well.
The lead, Shameik Moore, at first, seems a little bit too geeky and atypical of the classic Hollywood leading-man role. It only takes about 5 minutes of seeing him act, though, to dispel that. Support from Blake Anderson, A$AP Rocky, Zoe Kravitz, Tyga, and more only helps sustain the quality and awesomeness of this film.
Besides being a topical movie given today's racial and social climate, Dope is a whole lot of fun. It has a wild-ride quality to it that will keep you guessing, and the plot is a little far-fetched, but very, very.... dope (yes, the pun is intended). I didn't know exactly where it was going, which kept me on the edge of my seat.
The writing is clever, the aforementioned action is legit, and the unique direction style is really quite cool. At a time when a lot of Hollywood seems to be about copying things that "work", Dope does indeed work, but with its own style and flair.
It grabs onto you and throws you around a bit. Right when you think you have this movie pegged in one way or another, it flips everything around on you.
Any geek, regardless of their background, would really love this movie. I've already seen it twice, and I plan on checking it out again. The music is done by Pharrell, so obviously that part is taken care of by a legend - perfectly crafted and curated. It comes out this weekend - June 19th. Give it a shot. You won't be disappointed.