If I had to pick one movie from 2015 that had the highest under the radar to good movie ratio, it would be Dope. Because Dope is dope son.
Now that I’ve proven how white I am, let’s talk about a film that’s almost entirely cast with minorities and it’s not a biopic. Seriously, the only white guy in here is Blake from Workaholics.
Dope is the story of three high school buddies: Malcolm, Jib, and Diggy. They all live in the highly volatile area of Los Angeles called “the Bottoms.” They are all super into 90’s culture. They play in a punk band consisting of just themselves, and they dress like the Fresh Prince. They’re geeks, nerds, losers. Trying to get into college to get out of L.A. What dorks.
All three get invited to a party at a club where a drug altercation breaks out. The next day, Malcolm finds out that the local drug lord stashed his stash inside his school backpack. But it’s not as simple as returning the goods, they are blackmailed into selling the stuff they’ve tried hard to stay away from. If they can sell it without getting caught, maybe they can get out of L.A. without getting arrested.
Dope is one of those great movies you didn’t know you needed in your life. It’s astoundingly funny from beginning to end. Every character is a living breathing, fleshed out human being. Gasp! A lesbian character that isn’t constantly pointed out for looking like a dude? Black characters that aren’t lazy racist stereotypes?
But it’s more than that. It’s a drama. It’s an action film. It’s an introspective look at what you think a “black” film should be. And completely showing you the error of your ways. From the soundtrack, to the acting, to the delightfully interconnected scenes, Dope is the rare film that still surprises. It’s a mystery how the whole plot is going to play out and the fun is in discovering it along the way.
If Dope made more money I would expect that this film would make stars out of it’s lead actors. It’s a shame it probably won’t. The film has pacing issues (they don’t figure out they have to sell the drugs until about halfway through) but from the soundtrack to the setting, Dope is a Netflix film that deserves to be in your queue.
3 out of 4 stars.