A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Examines/dissects assumptions regarding class and race. Malcolm's story arc explores how difficult it is for impoverished young people to escape poverty and better themselves. But paralleling this is the grim idea that no matter how much someone from poverty does better themselves, the worst will always be assumed.
Positive Role Models
Malcolm is clever and kind, but he gets mixed up in an impossible situation. He wants to get out of poverty/his dangerous neighborhood and into a good college.
Violence & Scariness
Gang members bully kids, threats are made at gun point, a shoot-out kills and injures people, a young man waves a gun around and then accidentally shoots himself, and verbal threats make it clear that people will be killed if a young man doesn't do as he's told.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A young man masturbates in his bedroom while staring at videos of half-naked women dancing or of a photo of a woman he likes. References to sex, virginity, arousal, and various sex acts. A young woman offers herself sexually to the main character, appearing before him topless and asking him if he's a virgin.
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Frequent strong language, including many uses of the "N" word (all by African Americans except for one white character who's granted an "exception"); also "f--k," "motherf--ker," "motherf--k," "a--hole," "pussy," "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
Products/logos seen include Adidas, MTV, Beats by Dr. Dre, Maserati, Ancestry.com, Mini Cooper, PATTA, Bang & Olufsen.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent underage drinking and drug use (marijuana, MDMA) at parties, clubs, and in private. One young woman is so drugged that she vomits, urinates in public, and temporarily passes out while driving. Teens and young adults capture and upload videos of themselves and others on "Molly" (or "Lily," as it's called in the film).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dope is a coming-of-age story about a self-professed "geek" from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, if not the country. The high school senior dreams of getting into Harvard but first must overcome dangerous circumstances that threaten all of his plans. Expect lots of strong language ("f--k," "motherf--ker," "s--t," the "N" word), teen hormones, substance use/dealing (alcohol, marijuana, Ecstasy), and sexual situations (masturbation and naked breasts, plus lots of talk about virginity, arousal, and more), as well as moments of violence (a deadly shoot-out, threats with words and guns, bullying) and scenes in which a young lesbian is forced to go to her grandmother's church so the churchgoers can "pray away the gay." But Dope also has thought-provoking themes about class and race in the United States and what it takes for a poor African-American teen to get ahead. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Rick Famuyiwa's Sundance hit Dope is a coming-of-age comedy that's simultaneously clever, edgy, touching, and thought-provoking. Produced by Forest Whitaker (who also doubles as narrator) and Pharrell Williams (who also provided the original music), Dope is about a group that's largely without a voice in popular culture -- working-class African-American (or other minority) geeks who struggle to fit in and must always be aware of their surroundings. Moore gives a tour-de-force performance as young Malcolm, who desperately wants out of The Bottoms and into the kind of future he believes an Ivy League education can provide.
Equal parts crime caper, coming-of-age tale, and friendship comedy, Dope is brimming with energized performances, a perfectly complementary soundtrack, and lots of powerful social commentary. The philosophizing is never preachy; it's spot-on and occasionally harsh -- where you come from matters, and the color of your skin definitely matters. Malcolm, Jib, and Diggy can't afford to make mistakes, because one wrong turn, one extra pause could cost them everything. Despite its heavy themes, Dope is also hilarious, offering a biting reflection of youth culture's dependence on social media, where drugged out kids (and adults) will share anything and everything. This story comes down to one stereotype-defying boy who's basically a genius but who -- because of where he's from and what he looks like -- could just as easily end up in prison as Harvard Yard. And that's worth unpacking and discussing -- after you've laughed and laughed and laughed some more.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.