Dope

This was a very… refreshing film. Standard plot of straight-edge person is victim of mix-up for illegal activity and ends up having to do illegal activity in order to acheive their personal goal. Grows in the process. Gets girl at the end, all goals realized. The End. Yay.

But the process was fresh, youthful and reasonably comedic without being slapstick or stupid. Very low violence (unusual for this plot) and excellent music matching for the theme. I would have liked more exploration of Malcolm and his geekiness but overall it was convincing and amusing. His life isn’t that hard, but its not that great. Though he lives in “the Bottoms” of Inglewood, there’s no brooding or whining about how rough things are for him personally – its a mundane life that any teenager will identify with. Tolerating bullies, avoiding pushers and gangers – not portrayed as some depressing and death-defying feats but every day annoyances.

My two biggest problems with the movie were somewhat lackluster direction and the stereotype love-interest. You can always tell a weak director by seeing the difference in intensity between cast members. The performance by the actor who plays Dom and the bully as well were top-notch as was second-banana character of Dig. But the actor who plays Malcolm as well as his love-interest sometimes seem to just fade into the background rather than give us anything to connect to. Both actors barely registered on the “chemistry” scale as well. A good director can get a cast really bouncing off of each other and tries their best to bring equivalent performances from everyone. Though everyone was good, some were just noticeably better than others.