Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler
|Featuring:||Shameik Moore … Malcolm
Zoë Kravitz … Nakia
Forest Whitaker … Narrator (voice)
Blake Anderson … Will
Keith Stanfield … Bug
Kiersey Clemons … Diggy
Tony Revolori … Jib
|Producer:||Forest Whitaker's Significant Productions
|Distributor:||Open Road Films|
From a secular perspective, “Dope” is a gripping coming-of-age drama with encouraging messages. And it is those things—but from a Christian perspective, that’s only a small part of it. The larger part of it is another appalling proof that we live in a depraved world—not that we need a movie to prove that to us. There’s an hour and a half of profanity and immorality, and then some positive messages thrown in at the end.
The story follows Malcolm, a geeky high school senior living with his single mom in a broken down, somewhat dangerous neighborhood. One day, he gets caught up in a gang’s party, and the slippery slope of sin eventually plunges him into the world of illegal drugs. He must now get out of the many obstacles of life and learn how to view himself and the world.
In some parts, it felt like I was watching a gross-out movie. The sexual content, in particular, is nauseous. One of the main characters is a lesbian girl who hangs out with the guys. In one scene, she sees a posted picture with women’s bare butts and holds her tongue up to it. There are also crass discussions about genitals and some explicit discussion about types of sex. A drug addicted woman runs through the street nude and urinates. This is shown on a news cast, so her private parts are censored. The scene that pushes the moral rating from Very Offensive to Extremely Offensive is the scene where a girl takes off her clothes in front of Malcolm. Her breasts are in plain view for several long shots as the two indulge in sensual behavior—including when he lies underneath her and she vomits in his face, which is also plainly shown.
Profanity is also extreme. There are over 100 f-words and n-words, and not too many less s-words. The other common profanities are said in typical context, as if for good measure. The middle finger is shown, and r*t*rded is used once. In a few scenes, strong profanity is used more than once in every sentence.
The violence is moderate. There are some police chases and a few instances of shooting. One scene shows blood on a cell phone that is dropped. That’s as violent as it gets. But there is also a bit of graphic drug use.
I will say that I do think what the filmmakers had in mind from the start was the positive messages. Unfortunately, they didn’t do a very good job leading up to it—although the film is quite stylish. But even more unfortunately, the majority of the film’s content turned out to be very perverted. At the end, Malcolm gives an excellent speech about not fitting in. If the producers allow that to be put on YouTube, watch it. Nothing else in this film is worth seeing, and even that speech isn’t worth the rest of the movie. The beginning of the film displays the two definitions of the noun “dope.” (1) an illegal drug, and (2) a stupid person. This movie is another kind of “Dope” to avoid.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…A funny and often intelligent crowd-pleaser about three geeks who get smart about drug-dealing… Bouncy, with snappy dialog to spare and a great young cast…
—Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter
…a buoyant teen caper comedy… The crowded various-artists soundtrack is first-rate…
—Dennis Harvey, Variety
…Not as “Dope” as hyped, but it has its moments… in the end, just another unfunny grab bag of stereotypes. …
—Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
…It’s not always a perfect movie, but it really knows what it feels like to be alive, and there’s a good chance it will push you out the theatre door reverberating with its potent and particular energy. [3½/4]
—David Berry, National Post
…most of its facets are downright raw and filthy. We see sex and violence. We hear obscene language. We watch this world’s sense of morality implode, leaving us very little to pull from the ashes. If one’s upbringing shouldn’t fully define a person, then neither can one solid message redeem “Dope.”
—Paul Asay, Plugged In
…While writer-director Rick Famuyiwa gets too heavy-handed near the end, “Dope” manages to avoid the preachy pitfalls of “Dear White People,” though both attempt to show the wide range of humanity that exists within the young black experience that often gets overlooked. …
—Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
…exhilarating, terrifying, and terribly funny independent comedy…
—Kristian Lin, Fort Worth Weekly