Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Dope is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for the modern age, a coming-of-age story that follows a trio of friends though the adventure of growing up, set in the suburbs of L.A. instead of Chicago, but packing the same emotional punch. Malcolm is our hero, but he’s both Ferris & Cameron rolled into one, confident & scared to death in turns. The parallels between this comedy and that classic are many, with a myriad of other high school goof-ups and hip-hop adventures thrown in. But Dope stays fresh despite its sampling of other films, mainly because it borrows from the themes we’ve all come to love; that transitioning from school to the real world is tough, that true friends stick together to the end, that rules are made to be broken, and that Goonies never say die.
Malcolm is on his way up, on his way out of Inglewood, California, on his way to Harvard to start a better life. At least, that’s what he has planned. He’s always been a good student, a geek, an oddball, an aficionado of 90s hip-hop, which only makes him all the stranger. But he & his friends don’t mind, they like their dated language; Jib his trusty sidekick, Diggy his faithful lesbian. The trio bike through the streets, avoiding gangs, dodging bullies, and ignoring drug dealers, at least until they become dope slingers themselves. In an unlikely twist of fate, Malcolm & the gang find themselves smack dab in the middle of crime, and with no base knowledge on the subject, they’re about to be thrown in way over their heads.
A little bit Ferris, a little bit Boyz n the Hood, and a touch of Adventures in Babysitting, Dope is the modern coming-of-age comedy we’ve been looking for. It layers in the morals & the concepts, never sticking to one film long, but touching on all the classics while somehow weaving an original story all its own. Modern vernacular mixed with retro, new styles mixed with vintage fashion, clever plot twists meshed with classic comedic setups; there’s something for everyone here, and never a dull moment to be had. The magic of the movie lies in its ability to be a jack-of-all-trades, while also developing characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. Fun & funny, entertaining to the end, at once typical & obliterating the line, Dope is something that you won’t see twice.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆