Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope (2015) is a refreshing twist on all those nerdy high-school comedy-adventure stories that used to star John Cusack. Set in a
dangerous area of Inglewood, it focuses on three friends, Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Revolori), and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), who play in a band and
are obsessed with 1990s hip-hop. Enduring metal detectors and malevolent bullies at school, they all just want to lay low and survive long enough to get to
college. Malcolm’s crush on a neighborhood beauty, Nakia (Zoe Kravitz), brings them to a party, which accidentally leaves them with a huge package of
drugs; the only way to get rid of it is to sell it.
The movie provides all the fun and laughs that this genre usually promises, in addition to tons of great music by Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy,
and more. But it also raises intriguing questions about race, language, stereotyping and labeling, and gender politics (frequently mistaken for a boy,
Diggy is actually a lesbian). As Malcolm, Shameik Moore gives a breakout performance, and is someone to watch for. Forest Whitaker produced and narrates.