Sara O., Here…
Malcolm Adekanbi is a 4.0-earning black teen with dreams of Harvard and a fashion sense taken from Yo! MTV Raps. Obsessed with 90’s hip hop culture, Malcolm and his sidekicks Diggy and Jib couldn’t be more out of place in their home, The Bottoms, a notoriously crime-ridden neighborhood of Inglewood, California.
In some ways, Malcolm’s experience is the same as any high school geek: avoiding bullies, crushing on the hot girl he tutors, and playing in a nerdy punk band that screams lyrics like, “First day school, good grades are cool!” But the fact that Malcolm is black, lives with his single mother and refuses to be another stereotypical story from the ghetto starts the social commentary woven subtly (and sometimes overtly) throughout the film.
Malcolm’s quest to be a man of Harvard is potentially derailed when we gets a party invite from the aforementioned hot girl and accidentally leaves with a backpack full of Molly and a gun. While logic and his friends, say to take it to the police, Malcolm knows the reality of being a black teen showing up to a police station with a bag of drugs and a weapon. This incident leads the motley crew through hilarious and occasionally poignant journey to make it out unscathed.
Breakout star Shameik Moore plays Malcolm in his first lead role and will draw you in with a shy and earnest smile that will have you rooting for him the whole movie. Kiersey Clemons is his lesbian friend Diggy who is totally accepted by her friends but lives in a family trying to, “Pray the gay away.” Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel) is the always nervous Jib who claims his African roots from Ancesty.com. Like Moore, the rest of the cast is mostly unfamiliar to wider audiences but each play their roles flawlessly.
Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, DOPE debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and was an instant favorite. Overall the film is smart, funny, and moving with a unique take on the lives of black teens in America without being obviously heavy-handed. This will be the word-of-mouth movie of the summer.
Come for the buzz, stay for the message and leave with a renewed love of 90’s hip hop.
4.5 out of 5 Stars