Dope Blu-ray Review
While 2015’s STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON had a much more global message about race relations, DOPE may have a much more individual message when it comes to being a black teenager/young adult. It’s been quite a stellar couple of years for movies highlighting African American issues here in the states with FRUITVALE STATION, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, and others, but no matter the time period or theme, each one finds a unique voice and a unique inspiring message. DOPE is no different, but it manages to be a coming-of-age story, albeit a bizarre drug fueled one.
Malcolm (Moore) is a boy who was born in the wrong generation. He wears and sports 90’s clothing and fashion. He and his friends Jib (Revolori) and Diggy (Clemons) like hip hop and punk music, read comics, and care about their education. DOPE calls these hobbies, “things white people are into”. Sure it’s a blunt bit of social commentary to start the movie off, but DOPE has plenty of time to unravel the story.
The trio’s “white” interests are complicated when Malcolm gets entangled with a drug dealer, Dom (A$AP Rocky). Malcolm, impresses Dom and Dom invites the young Malcolm to his drug laden birthday bash. The seemingly good time is thrown into a frenzy when police raid the dance club. In the heat of action, Dom quickly stashes drugs and a gun in Malcolm’s bag without Malcolm’s knowledge. Now Malcolm, an aspiring student hoping to get into Harvard, must figure out what to do with the drugs and how to abuse the perception that people have him to work his way out of this trouble.
Like most movies that beat the drums and raise the red flag of racial injustice, DOPE works well simply highlighting the stereotypes that are still prevalent in society. But DOPE does something different. DOPE manages to dispel those stereotypes as well as embrace them to help further our character’s plight. There’s something to be said about a young black high schooler who’s aware about how society views him, but is cultured enough to use those misguided views to his advantage. Malcolm is a sly person that goes from victim to the person in charge.
Unlike Malcolm, who ultimately plans everything out and orchestrates it to perfection, DOPE seems to get a little messy halfway through. There are lot of conflicting themes and a couple of instances where the story stumbles over its own sense of humor. DOPE is a very smart movie, but it doesn’t know how to maturely handle its comedy. It’s kind of like watching Adam Sandler in PUNCH DRUNK LOVE, only for him to follow it up with MR. DEEDS.
DOPE is definitely a movie worth talking about, but it’s hard to do that without giving away everything that happens. DOPE begins with Malcolm talking about Harvard and DOPE ends with the letter he inevitably gets from Harvard. Part of Malcolm’s admissions is an essay that he blows off. By the end, he decides to raise some interesting questions, about who he is and what society expects from him, in his essay. Instead of simply asking people to judge him on his character, and not his color, Malcolm simply states that by understanding and controlling his identity, he can control your opinion of him.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) Everything in this movie is crisp and vibrant thanks to the crystal clear quality of the Blu-ray.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The soundtrack by Pharrel Williams is lossless on this Blu-ray.
DOPE is Different (3:21): This feature talks with cast and crew about some of the characters as well as a brief overview of the plot. The feature is a bit too short to really highlight the overall idiosyncrasies of DOPE.
DOPE Music (3:29): Another short feature that spends too little time talking about the music in the film, one of the minor, but important, themes of the movie.