I bet most supposed geeks out there wish they were as cool as the three geeks in Rick Famyuiwa’s (Our Family Wedding, The Wood) film, Dope. Don’t be put off by the title of the film as, though drugs are involved in the film they are more a plot device than anything else, most of it has to do with teenagers trying to make their way in the world. Nothing in the film is as simple as it might seem to be at first, including the title.
Growing up in the “Bottom” section of Inglewood, California is tough enough to begin with, but when you are labeled as a geek life becomes all that much more difficult. Malcolm (Shameik Moore – Joyful Noise) is a way above average intelligence young man who has dreams of going to Harvard. He and his two friends, Jib (Tony Revolori – The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Perfect Game) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons – from television’s Transparent), are also obsessed with 90s hip hop music and culture. They might as well have painted targets on their backs in this rough neighbourhood. Rather than let this get him down, Malcolm is a rather confident guy.
Things change a little when by pure accident he gets thrown into the drug world. After attending a party thrown by drug dealer De’Andre (Tyga) because the girl he has a crush on, Nakia (Zoe Kravitz – Mad Max: Fury Road, Divergent), is going to be there, Malcolm finds a bunch of ecstasy has been put into his knapsack. Life from then on becomes extremely complicated for Malcolm and his future at Harvard is hanging by a string.
What is great about this film is that the usual stereotypes about geeks are totally blown up. These are not your average kids on the fringes. Much “cooler” and more together and self-assured. Also a lot of the stereotypes about African-Americans don’t crop up here. It turns on its head that saying “product of your environment”. Though Famuyiwa and the film do not avoid race and class issues, rather Dope presents them in a different way. Refreshing. The writing is sharp and witty. This is accentuated by the strong acting by the three young leads.
Essentially the film is a coming-of-age piece that really keeps it fresh and bright.
-Dope is Different
-Preview of The Wedding Ringer