Essentially a caper movie, Dope defies the wearisome social realism that is often used to depict lives at the bottom of the social ladder. The script is verbally smart and the various contrivances and tangles of the plot are amusingly played out. At times, there is a little too much going on, as Famuyiwa throws everything he has at the screen, with YouTube clips, a Judd Apatow party scene, a lot of voiceover and flashbacks. But the madcap speed gives the film enough momentum, and the sheer likeability of the three main characters supplies the heart, to see it through. In fact, it is friendship, not love, that is the most important relationship here; Nakia is woefully underwritten and disappears for a long section of the film. Of the girls only Diggy - a girl who digs girls - gets anything approaching a character. She and Jib stick close to Malcolm despite the dangers and, with the help of white slacktivist and hippy Will (a scene stealing turn from Blake Anderson), set up an internet business to sell their haul of drugs, using videos of their punk bands 'The Oreos' to publicise it.
There are holes in the plot you could drive a DeLorean through and the film feels unwilling to leave without tying up every single loose end, but essentially Dope is likeable fun, a youth comedy which has more in common with Risky Business and Superbad than She's Gotta Have It or House Party. There are some sharply made satirical points - the gangs making their YouTube videos, the community leader is revealed to be a hypocrite - but the film never becomes preachy and if one moment teeters on the edge of worthiness, it manages to pull itself out and adroitly get on with other business. As well as launching Shameik Moore and the rest of the young cast, Dope is significant for its invigorating approach to the underprivileged urban youth it represents. There's realism, optimism and - as with the best 80s movies - even a prom.