DOPE is a movie I was very keen to see at the SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL earlier in the year but got sick and missed the damn screening, I thought that was it, kaput, it would be all over and I would have to download it to iTunes when it was available, but now the fine folks at Sony Pictures Australia are releasing it into arthouse cinemas tomorrow, Thursday 20th in Australia #soexcitement. It is rated MA15+ and runs for 115mins. From what I can see it is only playing in Sydney at Dendy Newtown and Hoyts Broadway, it is also at Cinema Nova in Victoria – I would check all your local directories with a sway towards the arthouse to track it down. I got to slip into a press screening last week and my review is now below………….rock on…………….JK.





DOPE is a pastiche of movies, a geek movie, a “black” movie, a drugs movie and a coming of age movie, hell even throw in a “getting-out-of-the-slums” movie. And this combination of genres works oh so well. You immediately know the film has some grit when you read Forest Whitaker is the producer with Pharrell Williams as the executive producer and who also wrote four original songs for the movie. It got cred, and it shows.

Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself. His neighbourhood is filled with drugs and crime and he is an uber geek with a penchant for all things 90s in a 10s era. He has two great lifetime friends who are with him through everything.


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Malcolm and his mates might be scripted as uber geeks in the wrong place but in reality they are pretty bloody cool, they have an awesome band and get themselves into and out of so many incredible situations that the movie is mostly comedy, a great relief from the usual drugs/slums stories of late. Malcolm is all style, it might be 90s Prince of Bel Air-esque but it is great styling, it does not look like his family has major financial woes though.

He has two friends, Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kersey Clemons), what these two lack in style they make up in sass and loyalty. At first you will think Diggy is a boy until one line from Malcolm will have you cracking up and realising Diggy is a girl. You may also recognise Tony Revolori as Jib, he, last year, was only the best bell hop this side of the Grand Budapest.


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DOPE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MALCOLM (Shameik Moore), JIB (Tony Revolori) & DIGGY (Kiersey Clemons )


Rounding out the cast is rapper Rakim Meyers as Dom, a smaller part but pivotal in the boy’s lives and comedian Blake Anderson as Will Sherwood, the druggy stoner who helps the boys out – he made me lol quite a bit. I also can’t work out the character’s name but a special mention MUST go to the lady who played the woman who got totally messed up on MDMA – I was laughing so hard I snorted a few times, it was an hysterical few scenes.

The acting is top notch, Shameik Moore, as Malcolm, is a sensation, expect a lot more from this young man. He has tenderness and innocence but also strength and hidden power and that naivety to “give it a go” and because of this you can’t help but constantly root for him.


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DOPE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MALCOLM (Shameik Moore), JIB (Tony Revolori) & DIGGY (Kiersey Clemons )


Does the movie always work? No, it doesn’t and occasionally it comes across as too many genres than it needed to be. The movie is first and foremost a journey into the rabbit hole for three geeks, a journey movie with some geeks way out of their element. Malcolm does want to get out of The Bottoms, where they live in the tougher neighbourhood of Inglewood in California, he wants to go to Harvard, he dreams and he goes out of his way to realise that dream. As opposed to most of the “drug slums” movies where this kid’s dreams would be smashed as he slipped further and further into the drug world and the film would end with a shooting and write over discussing the drugs and guns problems in the USA, this movie takes the comedic approach and it does it with aplomb but I feel the film did not know how to end itself and so ended with Malcolm’s speech to camera as his Harvard application. My one large gripe was a line in this – “why do you want to get into Harvard?” (or something to that effect) and Malcolm’s answer is “would you even need to ask that question if I was white?” This actually annoyed me because YES THEY WOULD – it is part of every job and (I assume) college and/ or university interview.


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But further investigating into this interview at the end of the film reveals the simplicity of the shot, after Malcolm says his answer, he flips up his hoodie, on a dark street and walks away. Now it means little to the viewer at the time, but director and writer Rick Famuyiwa wrote this movie during the shooting of Trayvon Martin and he is letting us know that Malcolm is a Trayvon, a simple “black” kid in the neighbourhoods with dreams, he was just lucky enough to pursue them. It was subtle but it meant a lot more when I read about it.

That being said, to me the film did not need to end with a speech and a political statement at all, the ending felt rushed to wrap up and this politicism was left of centre.

That being said, watching Shameik Moore of the closing credits was bloody amazing!!!! Loved it all!!

And something left of centre myself, Zöe Kravitz, I love her, she plays the love interest, the flower out of reach that Malcolm pursues through blind love. Some of you may not know but I was Lenny Kravitz obsessed when younger, I would sleep over and get tickets to all of his concerts and I would stalk him at album releases and hotels and every spare piece of wall was covered in framed Lenny posters, he spoke to me at a concert once and winked at me and I was like a 12yr old at a 1D concert, I screamed and came close to fainting – I have everything ever released from him up to a certain year and seeing the daughter of one of my gods, the muse, the love for one of the greatest songs of all time FLOWERS FOR ZOE, just warms the cockles of my heart :).


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DOPE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MALCOLM (Shameik Moore), JIB (Tony Revolori) & DIGGY (Kiersey Clemons )


This will end the year as one of the best feel good movies for me, it is bloody clever and it is well worth a viewing. It is also showing some financial success overseas – made for $700000 (mere pocket money for a Hollywood movie) and returned $17Mil so far. Gratz!! Add to that – 89% on Rotten Tomatoes from 109 reviews – not ours of course because the RT peeps are incapable of communication #notbitter.

Enjoy the movie and let us know what you think if you have or will be seeing it.

And to end “do you know what a slippery slope is?”


4 and a Half Pops




Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).