Dope movie full length review - Disappointing! Stop using this movie as a Hood for Dummies or Black Culture 101
Note: This was written before Chi-Raq came out which was 10 times worst!
*In Flavor Flav voice* "Don't believe the hype!!" (Public Enemy,1988)
As someone who grew up as an 80's baby and 90's kid to early teens, I had high expectations for this film. I was so excited to see this movie. My background in break dancing (bgirling) is all about 80's- 90's hip hop. I love Kid N Play's House Party, In Living Color, New Jack Swing and Hip Hop Artists! I enjoyed the classic 1999 movie "The Wood" starring Omar Epps and Taye Diggs, another movie by the SAME director as "Dope," Rick Famuyiwa. The beginning of the movie "Dope" was GOLD with the cinematography style, comedy and 90's nostalgia, BUT right in the middle this movie CRASHED into a DISASTER as the plot unraveled and dragged on FOREVER to ridiculous unrealistic circumstances!! So what went wrong?
The reason there is a lot of HYPE for this movie and high ratings is because "Dope" serves as a Black Culture 101 and Hood for Dummies for people who have NOT been exposed to diversity BELOW middle class. The older age crowd sees this movie as a tool to learn on what's "in" or cool now for the new generation. Also the people who are at the top of the Sundance film festival, the decision makers REALLY PUSHED this movie. Then you have the black folks that just like this movie for the hip hop and 90s references and turn a deaf ear to the black stereotypes and terrible message.
People are SO mind blown and so intrigued with the cool factors of this film like the rappers and celebrity cast, 90's beats, culture, social media and party scenes through out the movie, that they MISSED and IGNORED the underlying NEGATIVE message that says "If you're from the Hood, you stay Hood. And that's what you'll always be. There's NO way out, so CONFORM." This movie also had the NERVE to imply that college was only a WHITE thing and that selling drugs is the ONLY WAY out the hood for a black male.
*SPOILER Alert* I haven't wanted to walk out in a movie theater in a long time. When this movie got to the part that was SUPPOSED to be a clever plot twist, where Malcolm's only ticket out the hood turns out to be a TRAP to conform and push drugs, I LOST IT!!! Malcolm's Harvard Alumni interviewer and could-have-been mentor Austin Jacoby was the drug lord and head of the entire drug operation. He turned out to be the final mystery person that Malcolm had to deliver the money for the backpack of drugs to. What a simpleton coincidence! So stupid! Why would a successful Harvard grad still be pushing drugs to the youth on the streets?
Here you have someone also from "the bottoms" from the same hood that made it into Harvard but stayed in the drug game, getting kids to push dope AFTER making it "successful" out the hood. That communicates "Look kids, even when you make it to the top universities, you still need to sell drugs and destroy your black communities and lives. Getting lil n**** shot up for you." I know there are plenty of people who did shady things they felt they needed to do to get by while in the Hood, but once they were out they DIDN'T return to destructive ways.
The high school security guard is the same OG from The Wood, the blood gang "Stacey" who appears to turn his life around and takes a regular job is MORE of a role model than his Harvard connection that stayed in the drug game. It gets WORST! *Another SPOILER* At the end Malcolm blackmails or outsmarts Austin and convinces him to get him into Harvard by threatening to expose his drug operation. He somehow outsmarts an older OG and elite Harvard alum grad. Then in his STUPID essay to Harvard he talks about selling drugs in this "woe is me, I'm from the hood" fashion. He gets into Harvard through blackmailing Austin and crappy essay. The attempt to be "DEEP" or profound made me want to walk out because he was justifying selling dope and the end climax scene PALED in Comparison to 90's movie classics like Boyz N the Hood, Higher Learning and Above the Rim. The irony is that the male lead character "Malcolm" looks like Ricky from Boyz N the Hood (1991) who had a football scholarship to get out the hood (but died before he could). Ricky chose sports as his way out the hood. Malcolm's way out was selling dope in pill form on the Internet. This movie does the COMPLETE opposite of what classic 90's hood/urban movies taught us, but yet the main cast are 90's obsessed nerds???
Another part that was unrealistic and just plain stupid is when the nerd Malcolm pulls out a gun with shaking nervous hands on the Blood gangster leader at night in the hood on the street. Then the gang lead backs off scared of him. What "blood" gangster is UNARMED in the hood, in the worst side of Cali at night???! Later at the end, that same Blood leader nods at him in respect to give him "props." The gang leader doesn't challenge him seeing he is obviously shaking and most likely wouldn't shoot. He also doesn't retaliate being punked in front of his gang crew. YEAH OKAY SURE!
I will end with this: "Dope" was not DOPE! It did not have the "Jazz" (A Tribe Called Quest) or "JUICE" (1992 movie)! Read in between the lines. Don't be simple.