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Wick's Review

Created Jul 07, 2015 07:08PM PST • Edited Jan 07, 2019 06:16AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Dope is brilliant and features more fresh talent than any movie in years. Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Kimberly Elise, Chanel Iman, Quincy Brown, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz & A$AP Rocky are as attractive and compelling a cast as any comedy could have. Clemons & Iman simply sizzle.

    The compelling aspect means that Dope is also a drama, one that sheds significant light on America today, in communities that pride themselves on being African-American above all else. It is an of-the-moment lens into urban America, hip hop style, where the N-word is used as the primary 2nd-person personal pronoun.

    Produced by Forest Whitaker & executive produced by Pharrell Williams, Sean Combs & Rick Famuyiwa, it is written & directed by the impressive Mr. Famuyiwa. (Famuyiwa, a name I’m happier to write than say.)

    Gayness, blackness, wackness: Dope goes into most every -ness and mess that three nerds in a benighted SoCal neighborhood could encounter. Though ranging far thematically, it stays rooted in the experiences of those best friends in their last year of high school. Hell, prom tickets dated May 2, 2015 are a notable prop.

    Dope is the first Great American Movie of 2015 and the best movie of the year to date, dethroning Love & Mercy, which was of the 60s and 80s. Dope is totally 2015 and 2015 is at least partly dope. Can’t beat that.

  3. Really Great 4.5
    Dope Stars
    • Shameik Moore jumps off screen as “just Malcolm”, a proto-Harvard man stuck in a bad high school. This is one of the best leading-man debuts in recent memory. Whip-smart, sharp-looking, plays in a band, we’re more than happy to follow Moore’s “just Malcolm” through the movie.
    • Tony Revolori – last seen as The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Lobby Boy – plays his 14% African wingman. Never mind that Revolori is Latino, he’s quite capable of passing as 100% ghetto.
    • Kiersey Clemons pops off screen as the scrumptious Diggy, a girl’s girl, if you catch my Sapphic drift. Kiersey the cutie has the perky pixie quality of Audrey Hepburn. There is no higher praise.
    Dope Costars
    • Forest Whitaker as the Narrator, also produced the movie. The man is Mr. Hollywood.
    • Kimberly Elise is distinctive and attractive in the small role of Malcolm’s Mom, a single mom naturally. This terrific actress – crisp & sexy – deserves more roles, lots of them.
    • Zoë Kravitz plays a dream girl: sexy, saucy & just out of reach. Lenny Kravitz & Lisa Bonet’s daughter has her second great role of the summer, after her idealistic airman/hottie in Good Kill.
    • Chanel Iman jumps from her position as a Victoria’s Secret Angel to become Lily, the crazy hottie who sets off a drug craze. This girl is trouble and I mean that in the best way possible.
    • Quincy Brown as her brother, a rich aspiring rapper: Brown’s father is Sean Combs, co-executive producer of Dope. Talk about being a one-percenter.
    • Roger Guenveur Smith as Austin Jacoby, the Harvard alum who lives in Inglewood
    • Blake Anderson as a rich white guy
    • Rappers
      • Tyga as De’Andre
      • A$AP Rocky got the role of Dom after helping his then-girlfriend Chanel Iman read for her part. Rocky’s apparently the kind of guy who moves on from girls like Chanel Iman.
      • Keith Stanfield as Bug
    • Rick Fox as Councilman Blackmon: good cameo for Big Rick.
    • Amin Joseph as The Voice
    • Allen Maldonado as Alan the Bouncer
    • Ashton Moio as Lance
    • De’aundre Bonds as Stacey
    • Kap-G as a crazy bitcoin fence name of Fidel
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Rick Famuyiwa proves himself an auteur of the first order by writing and directing Dope. His perfect film satirizes the dysfunctions of hip hop culture, while also respecting it and those who seek to rise above it.

    Plus it’s funny, engaging, trenchant and enlightening, quite simply a Great American Movie. Like a Great American Novel that “perfectly represents the spirit of life in the United States at the time of its writing” (per Wikipedia), Dope perfectly represents the spirit of life in urban America in 2015. Bravo Famuyiwa!

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0
  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 3.5

    High School students get involved in many a Hard R situation in Dope. Beware and be cool.

  15. Sex Erotic 2.8
  16. Violence Savage 3.7
  17. Rudeness Nasty 4.0
  18. Glib 1.9

    Dope is deeply surreal circumstantially, par for the course with a comedy. Of more interest is the reflection it provides of urban America in 2015, circumstantially surreal though it may be.


    The hip hop culture is shown as devoid of upstanding male role models, with rappers and drug dealers filling the void created by absent fathers, uncles and clergy. Thus young achievers must keep their heads down, lest their “white goals” of academic success and college get them marked for regular beat-downs.

    Linguistically, the ubiquitous use of the N-word captures the dysfunction of such thinking in a single term. If nothing else, it implicitly enforces a narrow conformity about what it means to be authentically black.

    One hopes that a hip hit like Dope provides some social validation for urban nerds like those in the movie.


    One of the main characters is a lesbian who is very secure in her sexuality. This too feels of-the-moment, when hip kids needn’t question their preferences like those of yore.


    The dysfunction is considerable. Two examples among many:

    • Lives Don’t Matter: Urban kids accept that they can get gunned down while ordering a cheeseburger, not by cops but by thugs from the hood. The movie is to be commended for highlighting this and not forcing a bad cop angle into the story. There is a genocide going on in urban America today, but sadly it only gains mainstream notice when a white person is involved.
    • Molly Madness: Rave drugs and social media make for a combustible stew. Dope skewers on-line fads, outrageous viral videos and Molly/Ecstasy in quite entertaining fashion.
  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.6
  20. Biological Glib 2.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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