Culturally significant, poignantly relevant and remarkably entertaining

Malcolm goes to high school in Englewood. He’s from a poor crime filled neighborhood, raised by a single mother, doesn’t know his dad blah blah – hold up. Don’t get it twisted, this isn’t some sob story cliche movie, this is Dope.

Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is a self proclaimed hip-hop geek, he’s got his two close friends (played by Tony Revolori and Kiersey Clemons) and his dreams, but getting out and into Harvard doesn’t look too likely. Set amidst the vibrant hip-hop beats from the 1990’s, Dope tells of the most pivotal moments of his young adult life and of the adventure that changes it all.

Dope has a lot going for it: a killer cast, a fast paced and energetically evolving story mirroring the ‘slippery slope’ concept mentioned in the film, and a pulsating heartbeat of a soundtrack. Its youthfulness might ostracize the older generation, but in all likeliness, Dope was never going to speak to that demographic anyway. If you’re young, or were young in the 90’s then this film is for you.

A film that reveres the 90s time and golden age of hip hop has to have a sound track to match, and it doesn’t disappoint. Nas, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes and A Tribe Called Quest all get a moment, among countless others, and it will have audience members nostalgically flashing back to that era.

Most of the films accolades are thanks to the writer and director of the film, Rick Famuyiwa. He takes the stale ‘coming of age’ sub-genre and revitalizes it with a novel plot, fast and smart dialogue, all the while resisting stereotypes at every turn. In less capable hands, this film could be a convoluted train-wreck of excess. And while there is an abundance of content, Dope feels cohesive with its constant injections of music and humor amongst the drama. If this film is a reflection of Famuyiwa capabilities as a director when he has full creative control, we anxiously look forward to his future work.