Let's Talk About Dope [Movie Review]

What's all this hype surrounding the movie, Dope?  When I first read about the film in the June issue of Essence Magazine, I almost wrote it off.  Then I heard the praises and reviews from its run at the Sundance Film Festival, and decided to give it a chance.  Well, this past Tuesday I had the pleasure of going to a screening of the critically acclaimed movie, and I took my niece along for the show.  Dope is the story of Malcolm (Shameik Moore), a young black male navigating through the streets of Inglewood, California along with his friends Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori), who are all obsessed with 90’s Hip-Hop culture and fashion.  Malcolm, a geek with ivy league dreams, is on track to graduating from high school and attending college, but several unforeseen experiences threaten that fate.  

On what seemed to be another sunny day in "The Bottoms", a rough section of Inglewood, Malcolm is bullied for his sneakers, and chased down for his bike, the usual for him.  Later he is stopped Dom (A$AP Rocky), a drug dealer who wants him to run an interference and invite the beautiful Nakia (Zoe Kravitz) to his birthday party, a girl who Malcolm also has his eye on.  Nakia agrees to go as long as Malcolm attends.  After a sudden turn of events, Malcolm and his friends find themselves on the wrong side of right, on several occasions.  Will Malcolm, Diggy, and Jib make the right decisions?  Does he get into his ivy league of choice?  Will he get the girl?  I guess you’ll just have to watch the movie to learn what happens next!  Just know that Dope, will keep you laughing from beginning to end!  I have to give it to all of the up and coming young actors/actresses in this film, especially Moore, and rapper A$AP Rocky, as I was pleasantly surprised by his acting.  The film also stars Kimberly Elise, Forrest Whitaker, Tyga, Chanel Iman, and Quincy Brown.

It's a colorful coming of age film written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa who also gave us Brown Sugar and The Wood.  If you've seen those two films, and I know you have, you know that Famuyiwa is a dope storyteller.  Those are both two of my favorite movies and when you see Dope, you'll recognize a familiar face in the halls of Malcolm's school from The Wood, also set in Inglewood, CA (hence the name, duh!).  Famuyiwa said this of the story he wants to tell:

"In Dope, I'm presenting it through the lens of where I come from.  Where you're faced with bad and worse choices and how you're going to succeed, survive and transcend, especially when you're a kid like Malcolm, who doesn't have a safe zone... He's smart, he's in love with the nineties, and he and his friends have a hip-hop punk band.  But they live in Inglewood, where that's not common, so they stand out...Kendrick Lamar's Compton looks and feels completely different from N.W.A.'s Compton.  I wanted to revisit Inglewood and show the point of view the generation that came up after mine." - Rick Famuyiwa in Essence Magazine, June 2015

Check out Dope in theaters, NOW! And listen to "Don't Get Deleted" by Malcolm's band, Awreeoh!