I knew Dope was going to be a waste of my time early in the film, when a female homosexual character stated that she was gay, but that Justin Bieber made her wet. The line added nothing to the plot, it wasn’t a set up for any future plot device, it was just this character saying someone made her wet. So I knew this going to be a very immature movie, and I didn’t take it seriously.
The film centers on an African-American kid name Malcolm that wants to escape south central Los Angeles for a better life… that plot has never been done before… ever. Here’s the big twist on the film: The lead character is a nerd who is a fan of early 90s rap. His clothes look dorky, he’s socially awkward and he just doesn’t fit into the south central community he is living in.
Malcolm also dreams of getting into Harvard University. Through a series of unforeseen circumstances, he finds himself unwillingly in possession of a backpack of cocaine. He wants to get rid of it, because he is not a part of that lifestyle in the least. However, getting rid of the backpack is easier said than done, when cocaine is so valuable and so many people want it.
Dope bills itself as a comedy, but it’s not funny. It’s characters are too over the top and the gags mostly are scatological and about nether-regions. I am not upset with scatological jokes in the least. But Dope falls into the same trap so many other modern comedies do: I get the feeling modern movies are trying to shock you more than they are trying to make you laugh. Like so many other films, Dope can’t stop snickering when it hears the word ‘penis.’
The film’s premise isn’t bad. But it’s so poorly executed, top to bottom, there’s no way to enjoy it. Writer/director Rick Famuyiwa can’t decide if this film is a serious film or a comedy. In theory, the film can be both, but Dope doesn’t try to have a proper identity. Famuyiwa is a talented director, and he’s done fine work, but he should hit the reset button after this one.
Former LA Laker Rick Fox has a very small role, possibly as a nod to the film’s LA setting. I also think it’s highly likely he signed on to do the film as a way of getting funding for this very low budget film.
However, other people seeing this film did not share my sentiments. When I watched the film in the theater, some members of the audience clapped when it was finished. The only reason I would clap for this film is that they theater finally opened the door and I was free to leave this monstrosity.