Cinema Review: Dope | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, December 5th, 2023  


Studio: Open Road
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa

Jun 17, 2015 Issue #53 - April/May 2015 - Tame Impala
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Malcolm is a good kid. A bit of a geek, sure—he plays in a band, obsesses over ‘90s hip-hop culture, and listens to indie rock—but he stays out of trouble and gets good grades, which can’t be said of many youths from the Bottoms of Inglewood, California. After doing an innocuous favor for a neighborhood dope slinger, Malcolm is invited to his first real party. He and his friends escape when the club is raided, but Malcolm finds his backpack stuffed with drugs that he wants zero part of.

Dope is a comedy in the same way as Pulp Fiction—with clever dialogue sprinkled across a large cast of increasingly eclectic characters who are all interconnected in unexpected ways. The story’s told in a compellingly visual manner—through all sorts of eye-catching tricks, from splitscreen to browser windows and cell-shot footage—with an upbeat, energetic soundtrack featuring original songs by Pharrell Williams. But the greatest strength of Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope is that beneath the zaniness lie elements with real, emotional impact, from Malcolm’s bullied, outcast status to the everyday realities of growing up in a dangerous neighborhood. Dope is not only the most vibrant films we’ve seen this year, but the most tender.

Author rating: 8/10

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