Dope

Nigerian-American writer-director Rick Famuyiwa's Dope is a fresh coming of age tale that stars a young black computer geek / garage musician Malcolm (Shameik Moore), who with his posse, 1/14th-black bassist Jib (Tony Revolori) and no-nonsense lesbian drummer Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), navigate the rocky shoals of senior year in high school while avoiding beat downs from hallway bullies, neighborhood drug dealers and warring gangs, studying for SAT's and making spiky, bouncy music (supplied by Happy hitmaker Pharrell Williams). And, yes, this is a comedy, narrated by Hollywood A-lister Forest Whitaker. After narrowly escaping a schoolyard thug, the trio peddle their bikes past the operation of drug slinger Dom (rap artist A$AP Rocky), who enlists Malcolm as message-bearer to fabulous b-girl Nakia (Zoe Kravitz). As luck or fate or Hollywood plotlines would have it, Nakia is drawn to Malcolm's handsome, unassuming charms and invites him to a nightspot where the dope (several bricks of MDMA) comes into play. Famuyiwa's cagey tale of crosses and double-crosses also explores thorny issues of race and class and their intersection with youthful aspirations. A hilarious treatment of the proper use of the n-word by non-blacks is for the ages. Like Famuyiwa's earlier films The Wood (1999) and Brown Sugar (2002), Dope probably contains more than a few autobiographical references, and if his selection of featured actresses is any indication, Famuyiwa definitely has a type. Highly Recommended.

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