Dope (2015)

Dope (2015)

written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa

When I watched the trailer for this indie, I immediately wanted to watch it. Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Remolori), and Diggy (Kersey Clemons) are three self-proclaimed high school geeks from Inglewood, CA, who try to steer clear of school bullies while obsessing over Yo! MTV Raps (1988-1995) and 90’s vinyl. It looked pretty, well, dope – wacky situations and razzmatazz editing to the beat of a cool hip hop soundtrack. And for a while it is.


But as the film goes on, it feels as if writer/director Rick Famuyima is trying just a little too hard: He veers into action-movie territory as the misfits find themselves up shit’s creek when a local gangster hides a stash of MDMA in Malcolm’s backpack, and the comic coming-of-age tone gets diffuse. Then he abruptly changes gears again in the final ten minutes as Malcolm fills an application to Harvard that questions racism and indifference – wait, now it’s a full-on drama? I don’t know. That’s a lot of ideas wrapped up in a single film, and while the attempt is valid, the results are a bit jarring and all-over-the-place.

In any case, watch it for the chemistry between the stars – particularly Clemons, who pretty much walks away with the film as lesbian tomboy Diggy. She’s da bomb.

Rating: **½

Carlos I. Cuevas