Friday, 18 September 2015

Review: Dope

World of Blackout Film Review

Dope Poster

Cert: 15 / 103 mins / Dir. Rick Famuyiwa / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

Sometimes, you go into a film having only seen the trailer once a few weeks ago, and are expecting a sharp, sassy satire when instead you're handed a goofy, loveable geek-com. Full of loud hip-hop and louder shirts, Dope is the story of three nerds who become unintentionally involved in selling stolen MDMAto appease two street-gangs and one dealer. It sounds incredibly heavy-going and the subject itself is never treated flippantly, but Rick Famuyiwa has a lightness-of-touch which beings the comedy and drama together seamlessly.

Ostensibly a socio-political piece on the state of domestic politics in the US, there's also a vein of humour throughout the film which won't let it take itself too seriously. Dope a little like Jackie Brown rewritten as a classic farce / coming-of-age comedy by Douglas Adams and Kevin Smith*1. There is a more serious message at play (on a higher level than the drugs themselves), although it doesn't really step into the limelight until the film's crescendo and after the dust has settled on the dick-jokes and punch-ups.

The one area where the film falls down slightly is in its depiction of computers, particularly social media, given that the story centres around three geeks selling Molly online. Cue lots of those Generic Movie Computer Displays with over-simplified layouts and huge text. Obviously Facebook, Twitter and YouTube don't really want to sign off their branding to a film where the protagonists distribute narcotics (successfully at that), but the alternative looks amateurish to anyone who's used a computer in the last five years (ie, the target audience), and undermines the film slightly. But only slightly.

Dope is highly enjoyable, far more amusing than it has any real right to be, and well worthy of a watch. If the soundtrack had been a touch less pedestrian and the film's final shot had been cut just a beat earlier, I'd have given it an extra point; always leave them wanting more, Famuyiwa ;)

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
If you can sure, although it's on a low-key release in the UK.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
It'll be a buy-er, for nights in with friends and booze.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Can't say for sure as I hadn't seen (or at least clocked) a lot of the cast before, but everyone can be proud of this movie, yes.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
I think it does, but it's quite a close-call in places.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
The film is produced and (occasionally) narrated by Forest Whitaker, who'll be appearing in next year's Star Wars: Rogue One.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Yes, I'm fully aware that I've just complemented a very black film by referencing three white writers, but I'm referring to the quality of their writing, not the colour of their skin. Shit, I shouldn't even have to explain that, but if I hadn't then I've no doubt someone would be thinking it and now that I have explained it, everybody's thinking it. I really can't win, some days.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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