The buzz around Dope is rightfully huge, starting at this year's Sundance Film Festival and building to a crescendo this week, as more and more people see the film. Directed and written by Rick Famuyiwa, the film is almost like a throwback to the classic Black films of the '90s but still fresh enough for 2015. The flick, distributed by Open Road Films, owns all of the elements of a neo-classic: quotable one-liners, breakthrough actors, rappers making their film debuts (A$AP Rocky, Tyga) incredible music from Pharrell Williams and a damn good script. Famuyiwa is already a name we associate with Black rom-com classics like Brown Sugar and The Wood, but Dope is his best film to date.
Dope is the story of three kids in a rough Los Angeles neighborhood accidentally caught up in a drug deal gone wrong. But the heart of Dope goes beyond teen drug dealers; the layered plot tackles themes of race, sexuality, masculinity, gender and community. Extremely timely in this era of cultural movements like Black Lives Matter, Dope not only entertains but accessibly informs.
Surprisingly, the movie excels at tackling crime, drama, romance, comedy and a coming-of-age tale. Usually, multi-genre films fall flat, but Dope is a cinematic high — and accurately reflects the roller coaster that is a day in the life of a teenager. Similar to The Breakfast Club, Dope will be the go-to film for this generation of millennials.
A star is born in Shameik Moore who plays the lead, Malcolm, a lovable nerd obsessed with '80s and '90s hip hop that doesn't fit in with the popular crowd. His BFFs are Kiersey Clemons as Diggy, an out lesbian with a religious family, and Tony Revolori as Jib, his ride or die pal with a quick mouth. Plus, a supporting cast that includes Zoe Kravitz, A$AP Rocky, Tyga, Chanel Iman and Quincy Brown. Everyone rocks the screen, but Moore carries the film like a pro. Similar to what Boyz n the Hood did for Cuba Gooding Jr.'s career, Dope can do the same for Moore.
Edgy, hilarious and relatable regardless of age, Dope is the grit of John Singleton's classic, the quirkiness of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the polish of a Spike Lee joint, all with Rick Famuyiwa as the mastermind. Without CGI, superheroes or recycled dinosaurs, thus far, Dope is the best film of the year.
Dope opens in theaters Friday, June 19. Check out the film's trailer, below:
(Photo: Rachel Morrison /Open Road Films)
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