DOPE begins, sporting a bevy of definitions for the title word: drugs, a dumb person, and something that's good (as opposed to wack -- or maybe it's whack -- which is bad). That last definition may take you back to the parlance of the 1980s, a time period much treasured by the movie's leading young man, Malcolm (played with a fine combination of budding everything -- from sex appeal to intelligence to, yes, even maturity -- by Shameik Moore. Malcolm wasn't around in those "halcyon" 80s days, but he loves the music of that period, which has inspired him and his friends to create some more of it. The movie was written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa (the filmmaker is shown below), who, back in 1999 gave us the overpraised but still worthwhile The Wood. After several movies in between, Dope proves his best so far and by far.
Roger Guenveur Smith) -- proves Dope's ace-in-the-hole, grounding the film in a sad reality, even as it teases and entertains us into such high spirits.
Kimberly Elise as Malcolm's mom, Tony Revolori (above, right and everyone's favorite bellhop from The Grand Budapest Hotel), Zoë Kravitz (below, right) as the apple of Malcolm's eye, and Kiersey Clemons (above, left) as the lesbian high-schooler and gal pal, Diggy. As strong as the movie is concerning its hero, it is equally weak regarding most of the subsidiary characters, who are, for the most part, one dimensional. This does not destroy the film by any means but it makes it a long way from great. Yet, as I say, it's a smart entertainment, as well as a look at an under-served portion of the black community. And that, these days, is nothing to sneeze at.