A FUN AND DIVERSE COMING-OF-AGE TALE
Dope is an entertaining film set in modern day Inglewood, CA. The story follows Malcolm and his two friends, a group of nerdy high school students who have a love for everything 90s. Malcolm and his friends daily life is full of perils from bullies at school to dangerous encounters on the bike ride home every day. It is during one of these rides home that Malcolm encounters a young dealer named Dom, and his life is changed forever.
This film seems to be a call back to the growing up in the hood genre films set in the 90s without boxing itself into any limits. More than anything, this movie is a coming of age tale. With any coming of age tale, there is usually the troupe of the girl next door. In Dope, the girl next door is an untouchable girl down the block.
Of course the love story isn’t the meat of the story. Malcolm’s life is changed forever after he meets Dom, Malcolm slowly finds himself mixed up in Dom’s world. Dope offers a fun adventure as Malcolm and his two friends flee thugs and experience the dangerous world around them. Along the way, Malcolm transforms from a wimpy nerd who is just trying to make it to college into someone who is more resourceful then he ever believed. This film has a great blend of humor and love. The chemistry of the three friends feels genuine.
There are two strong themes that permeate this movie. There is the main plot of how a perfectly good student with a bright future can fall prey to their situation. That theme of the corruption of innocence because of circumstance and environment is pivotal to the advancement of the main plot. Slowly Malcolm is forced to make decisions that he shouldn’t have to make. The second theme is more subtle. It is the concept of perception. The movie really doesn’t hammer this point home until the end of the film. But as events occur, certain parties within the film perceive Malcolm different ways due to his hobbies, actions, and environment.
Ultimately the message of this movie is to withhold judgment of an individual based on your perception of who they are or where they came from. Life is more complicated then the black and white. Dope offers several characters who fall within the area of gray.