Dope full movie review - Wow! Along the lines of Back to the Future... And that's a good thing!
If I could summarize this movie in one word: it would be "Wow"! Come on... don't be like that. It's kind of funny.
But that honestly was my initial reaction to discovering what the actual plot of the movie was really about. It helped make the plot work which I'll get into and fuel the story's momentum where it feels completely unpredictable because as the viewer were expecting something else or something a bit shorter in ambition than what this is going for.
This film was sort of advertised and promoted as being a coming of age movie but it's more of a 80's teen comedy. What I meant by shorter in ambition isn't to sell the coming of age story short or the underdog story, the only issue is that those could sometimes become predictable and filmmakers find it all too easy to stay within conventions. This sort of transcends some restrictions and reservations about what they would have black characters do in a movie.
It's a fun mix of Pulp Fiction and Back to the Future, the interaction with the school official was reminiscent particularly the fact that what they say is a crux to the story in both films. It's not those films though; it's an entity entirely of its own.
One of the downsides to those movies were that the focus of those films often were upper middle class kids that sometimes depending on the film featured a scene where they go to the inner city. The opening narration helps sell the idea of why this atmosphere should be foreign to Malcolm due to his "whiteness" in certain aspects of life. Compare the scene at Dom's birthday party to the inner city scene from Weird Science. Pretty similar.
There was a sort of disconnect that isolated Malcolm from his environment that I wish it didn't exist. I wished the character had some street smarts and an ongoing friendship beforehand to help sell the idea of what he later accomplishes in the film. Don't get me wrong, he's fun, independent, incredibly smart, and dresses stylish but he's a bit too perfect. Although he is embarrassingly awkward at times, he never quite feels in over his head as he makes plans and schemes without ever second guessing his choices. He's an idealist without learning some cynicism. If you do good things in life, it doesn't mean things always go the way you wanted just because you worked hard for it.
Harvard is cool and all. It's sort of a teen movie college application cliché. But why Harvard? What happens if you don't get in even with the recommendation? What about the kid's place your taking who can afford it but doesn't use blackmail? Why not Princeton? It becomes noticeable when he's speaking with Kravitz character who tells him she's studying for her GED and is planning to go to a community college. He tells her not to settle. What? What is he talking about? Everything she just said to him was the fact that she wasn't settling for the circumstances she was born into and made for herself. She doesn't call him out for his naivety.
The fact that he wasn't called out for this caused a bit of a values dissonance that existed in a simpler time of the 80s.
What works? The film utilizes very interesting editing techniques and jumping of time. The characters are fast and fun for the most part. The plot is one of the most interesting I've seen constructed in a while: it has so many Chekhov's guns and foreshadowing involved in the plot. Almost no bit of dialogue is wasted although, it could have for more character development. It becomes a Jenga tower block work of a plot that may falter a little when fridge logic but not enough to tumble it. The experience is too enthralling to negate it.
The pace is lightning quick but the film does begin to feel a bit long as it resolves its complicated plot threads. But by the time it does, the energy is restored and you go out on a fun note. Malcolm, Jacoby, Lily, and Dominique were some of the most interesting characters of film.
The rest is dipping into spoiler territory...
What didn't quite work? The overuse the use of the N word. Some characters didn't sound too comfortable saying it or maybe it was my own discomfort with them saying it. It's not used that much in conversation.
I found Lily character to incredibly interesting and would have loved to see her included in more of the plot as rival love interest. Kravitz's character felt left out of the film and wished she had returned to the movie a lot sooner. What do we learn that she has in common with the main character other than the fact that he likes her? Overall, it's a good film. I think the film would have worked even better as a solo adventure with his friends helping out occasionally. They feel underdeveloped and at times clueless when they appear so much in the film but have little impact on what happens. There are many scenes where the 2 sidekicks disappear or run away when the main character needs to do something.
How are these kids unpopular exactly? The way they dress and act is sort of the cultural shift that has taken place over the last 10 years. The gangsters sort of dress in remnants of 2006-8.
He's a prep not a geek. Dwayne Wayne, not Steve Urkel.
Who is Forester Whittaker's character? I was thinking at first, this must be like the Wonder Years. But it never comes back into play, why didn't Moore narrate? Or have the film be meta and Moore interrupt a closing narration to the film in a Zack Morris style and comment. "Yo, who the #### is this?" Very enjoyable!