DOPE: REVIEW – Dope is a fresh young comedy about the lives of three black high school kids in a tough Los Angeles neighborhood inspired by 90s hip hop, white culture and the best of John Hughes: think of it as Pretty in Inglewood.
Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope feels like a debut movie – fresh, eager to please, over-directed – but it’s hard not just to go with the flow. The three friends – our hero Malcolm (the extremely likable Shameik Moore), his gay friend Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori, from The Grand Budapest Hotel) – have all the usual problems of young kids at school: fitting in with their peers, being bullied and struggling to keep their grades up; plus they have to avoid gang related violence, the risk of constantly being shot and they have a punk band and like ‘white shit.’ There’s a story about an unobtainable girl, a brush with a local hoodlum and a bag full of guns and drugs that must be dealt with. But all that is pretty much an excuse to string together a series of funny set pieces. It’s ardent cheerfulness is in itself a political statement, refusing to take the angst ridden root of portraying life in ‘deprived urban areas’ as unremittingly grim. There is abuse, corruption and random violence, but there is just as much solidarity, humor, smarts and love.
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