This seems to have been the summer for teen dramas and coming of age movies. We’ve had the John Green adaptation Paper Towns and the indie hit Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I really enjoyed both of those movies and they will rate highly in my end of year list. Was there room for one more in the form of Dope though? Unfortunately not.
Dope at times feels like an up to date version of Straight Outta Compton, thanks to named film I got a lot more references in Dope that I otherwise wouldn’t have understood although the quality in films isn’t so similar. The film follows Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his two friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) as he attempts to make it to his dream college, Harvard. Of course a lot happens along the way, although that is half the problem I had with the film. I never really knew what the film was trying to achieve, overall I guess its the story of Malcolm trying to get to Harvard but the themes thrown in throughout the film made the story seem messy and unfocused. The film has themes or romance, friendship and drugs but I never knew what they were trying to say with any of them. The romance element particularly frustrated me. It always managed to undo what hard work the rest of the film had put in by being ridiculous and unbelievable. It was always thrown in at odd times too, this would have been one aspect that the film would have done so much better without.
The three main characters are interesting and likeable enough and the actors create a good chemistry between them however the story surrounding them is simply never as interesting as they are. I did enjoy some parts of the film, Malcolm’s personal essay for Harvard is a constant tool for entertainment and interest as the film proceeds and the debate surrounding the use of the N word featured was probably the highlight of the movie. However, apart from these moments I did find Dope really quite boring. The film ends and you are left with the feeling of, ‘Is that it..?’ well at least I felt like this. Whilst I was glad the film was over I felt like things had come to an end prematurely. The characters featured in the film had more to give and there were more interesting routes to go down.
Dope isn’t a bad film, it has some really nice moments in it. The three main characters are likeable but if it wasn’t for them I would have really struggled to get through the movie. They perform well it’s just a shame that the story they are a part of just isn’t very interesting or maybe it just wasn’t told in an interesting way. Many film fans seem to be enjoying this one though, so maybe it’s just a matter of taste but I was left feeling far from dope.
Rating – 6/10