Dope | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


An ill-advised trip to a party sets a dangerous farce in motion for a geek in the hood

The opening title of Rick Famuyiwa's coming-of-age comedy reminds us that "dope" means drugs or somebody who makes mistakes, and that it's also slang for "good, in a fresh kind of way." All three meanings get a workout here, as high school senior Malcolm (Shameik Moore) has an awesome, crazy, messed-up week or so. Malcolm is a self-professed geek in a less-than-welcoming environment: the rough streets of Inglewood, Calif. He's college-bound, skateboards, plays in a punk band with his two geek pals, and dresses like a 1990s hip-hopper.

Then, an ill-advised trip to a party sets a dangerous farce in motion, as Malcolm and his buddies juggle a backpack of drugs, feuding drug dealers, a feckless hacker, a very odd Harvard alum, bitcoins and a nearly naked girl. In between the laughs, Malcolm learns some lessons about himself, how the world perceives him and maybe — maybe — how to maximize the angles. Like many teen films, it plies plenty of standard tropes, but upends some others, ultimately delivering a fresh and positive look at adolescence's pitfalls.

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