I just finished watching Dope, and I really enjoyed it! I'm normally not into "LA" films--nothing against the city at all, it's just that the vibe is so different from the east coast that such films almost come across as foreign to me. Dope wisely focuses on the characters and not the "city as character" trope that so many films fall into.
The story was poorly sold in the marketing/advertising, and it took me a while to finally watch it after I purchased it. Now that I've seen it, I definitely wish I had seen it sooner. It has the feeling of a traditional "heist" film but with teenage protagonists of color. Yet, it still very much felt like a heist sort of film, which at times gets dull.
It also gets Spike Lee-ish toward the end--surreal, absurd, and almost dream-like. Artistically, I guess it made sense, but I think the film would have been stronger had it stuck with the realistic tone it had struck in the beginning.
There are many small roles and cameos by actors we all know and love through the generations: the supremely talented Roger Guenveur Smith, a "before-he-was-famous" LaKeith Stanfield; and the surprisingly good ASAP Rocky. But others like Rick Fox and Kimberly Elise are under-utilized. It's great to see them working, but a shame in such small roles.
The three leads are great, however, and I never got tired of them on the screen.
I'd be remiss if I didn't speak up about the tired "Harvard as ultimate goal" Hollywood trope. It's a trope that filmmakers come by honestly, but it's just so overdone. I would have loved to have seen the main character's dream school be Dartmouth, Chicago, or Georgetown.
Ultimately, it's a solid film that I enjoyed and would recommend.
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