Devin King | Staff Reporter
Published June 23, 2015; 10:42 a.m.
As someone who is part black, I feel that most films geared toward the black community nowadays fall into two categories: serious dramas about historical events, such as “Selma” and “Lee Daniel’s The Butler,” and cheap comedies, such as “The Wedding Ringer.” Both of which do have their own tropes, however, Rick Famuyiwa’s “Dope” is a black film that is not only a breath of fresh air, but also is self-aware and points out these tropes.
Protagonist Malcolm, an 18-year-old “geek” from a rough California neighborhood, and his friends Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori) are obsessed with 1990’s culture and are in the process of getting into college so they can leave their crime-riddled area. This takes a turn for the worst, however, when a mysterious drug boss crosses paths with them.
The best part about “Dope” is how smart it is. For the most part, as a kid looking to go Harvard, Malcolm is very smart. Even his jokes are very clever, ranging from those related to astrophysics to 90’s sitcoms. Malcolm is pressured into rewriting his letter to Harvard, which is about the rapper Ice Cube, and is instead told to write about how hard it is to grow up in a bad area, to which Malcom refuses because he finds it cliché. It is a very nice self-aware joke, which the film is full of.
The score itself is composed of classic hip-hop and rhythm and blues tunes, most of which are ‘90s classics, such as “California Love.” If it was not obvious already, “Dope” requires the viewer to have an interest in its culture in order to be enjoyed.
Unfortunately, for all “Dope” does to stand out and not be cliché, the ending is slightly cliché in many aspects and there are several flaws here and there, such as character decisions.
Overall, “Dope” is a fresh and fun experience that can be hilarious and serious at the same time. Even with its minor flaws, there really is not anything else that is similar to it, which adds to the enjoyable experience.