Dope, film review

(15) Rick Famuyiwa, 115 mins Starring: Shameik Moore, Kiersey Clemons, Tony Revolori
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The Independent Culture

This engaging teen comedy/rites-of-passage drama, produced by Forest Whitaker and executive produced by Pharrell Williams and Sean Combs, has a subversive edge. It chronicles the misadventures of Malcolm (Shameik Moore), a nerdy high-school student in Inglewood, a city south of LA. Malcolm spends his spare time listening to 1990s hip-hop and performing in a band but studies ferociously hard to go to college. After a chance encounter with a local drug dealer, who uses him as a go-between to pass messages to the girl (Zoë Kravitz) he is wooing, Malcolm winds up with a backpack full of drugs.

What is refreshing about Dope is its cheerful irreverence. It doesn't moralise about gangs, crime, racism or the lack of opportunity for Malcolm and his peers. It uses its urban settings for a story which plays like a black version of a John Hughes brat-pack movie. As nerds go, Malcolm is good-looking, enterprising, and not averse to stretching the law well beyond breaking point to enhance his career and college opportunities.

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