Last night I watched the movie Dope, which is executive produced by Grammy award winning singer/song-writer Pharrell Williams and debuted at the Sundance Film Festival as a critic’s favourite.
The film’s main character is a high school student named Malcolm from Inglewood, California. He’s a straight A student with aspirations to go to Harvard. However one night he gets invited to a party by the neighbourhood dope boy played by rapper A$AP Rocky, who actually does a decent job for his first acting gig, where then trouble ensues for Malcolm and his group of friends.
The film was written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa who also brought us films such as The Wood and Brown Sugar. Some of the familiar faces in the movie were Zoe Kravitz, model Chanel Iman, singer Quincy (Al B. Sure’s son) and Rick Fox. Forest Whitaker is also the producer and narrator.
Overall what I enjoyed about the movie was the range and dimension of the main character. So often black characters are written to fit a stereotype, disprove those stereotypes or given lack luster story lines to avoid rocking the boat. Malcolm is shown to continuously juggle his geeky side, the demands of being a black teenage boy and trying to navigate through his environments in a genuine way.
There were so many times I understood Malcolm and his friends’ determination to take care of their family, while still trying to be cool and survive in their rough hood. All the while, the soundtrack is amazing which is as expected with Pharrell at the helm. Me and my friends were bumping in our seats at many points.
Please support this film and show that black hip hop based films can be nuanced and creative.