Dope may just have our vote for best feel-good flick of the summer. The coming-of-age story will make you laugh, think and reminisce about your years as a teen trying to figure it out. Here, we break down why Dope is the new classic.
“You go to high school in Inglewood. You think you’re gonna get into Harvard?” Dope is a coming of age movie that sets out to answer this question for Malcolm (Shameik Moore). Malcolm is a nerd struggling to survive high school—college applications, interviews and SATs—while dodging trouble in his tough neighborhood in California. An underground party with Dom (A$AP Rocky) and Nakia (Zoe Kravitz) leaves Malcolm and his crew holding an unexpected backpack of drugs and owing a hefty debt to some scary drug dealers. Can they unload the dope before it’s too late? Directed by Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood, Brown Sugar), Dope is this summer’s must-see movie. It’s fresh, smart and filled with throwback nostalgia. Before you catch it this weekend, here’s why we’re sure you’ll soon place Dope among your favorite movies.
1. Boyz II Men: Dope is the quintessential coming-of-age movie. We follow Malcolm as he awkwardly cruises through the halls trying to figure out that crazy sea of hormones called high school. From steering clear of bullies on the block to stressing over SATs and getting the nerve to ask his crush to the prom, the themes in Dope are so universal. We’ve all been there—and our parents have the dorky photos to prove it.
2. I Love the 90s: Neon colors, hi-top fades, chunky gold chains and other 90’s throwbacks make Dope a nostalgic adventure. Although Malcolm and his crew take it back—all the way back—the movie is set in the present and feels fresh and relevant with nods to Bitcoin and Molly.
3. Phat Jams: Dust off your Walkman and Jodeci tapes because will have you in a throwback state of mind. The movie’s soundtrack, curated by producer Pharrell Williams, is filled with retro ‘80s and ‘90s cuts from the likes of A Tribe Called Quest (“Scenario”), Digital Underground (“The Humpty Dance”) and Public Enemy (“Rebel Without a Pause”).
4. Kidz in Da Hall: A lot of movies boast big names but this cast delivers A-list performances. This is the first lead role for newcomer Shameik Moore and he knocks it out of the park. You actually believe that he’s the nerdy guy you used to hang out with in high school. Rapper A$AP Rocky offers the perfect amount of gangsta bravado, model Chanel Iman is a druggy rich girl and even Tyga—who’s on screen for a grand total of maybe five minutes—plays the part of an annoying goon quite well.
5. Stuntin’ Like My Daddy: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Two of the film’s breakout stars have famous bloodlines. Zoe Kravitz—daughter of rocker Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet plays the object of Malcolm’s affection. She’s sexy, alluring and the girl-next-door every boy wishes he had coming up. Quincy Brown (the adopted son of Sean “Diddy” Combs and the biological son of singer Al B. Sure) is another standout. Playing a spoiled rich kid with questionable street cred might have already been in the handsome Brown’s wheelhouse, but he plays it with panache.
6. California Love: Palm trees, crop tops and endless sun. Just like classic flicks Boyz n the Hood and Baby Boy, Dope will have you California dreamin’. Even if you weren’t lucky enough to grow up on the West Coast, you’ll leave the theatre itching to cruise Inglewood in a lowrider.
7. Good vs. Evil: Remember how good it felt when Craig punched out Debo in Friday? The struggle between good and evil, underdog vs. bully, is a major plot line in Dope. If you’ve ever been pushed into a locker in high school or passed over by the hottie at prom, you’ll feel poor Malcolm’s pain.
8. LOL: Drama, action and adventure, without losing its sense of humor. Dope has it all. There’s no shortage of lighthearted jabs and jokes that will have you laughing out loud in the theater. One especially funny scene is when comedian Blake Anderson’s character tries to justify being able to use the n-word as a white person. The back-and-forth (and eventually punch) the tough-as-nails (but sweet) Kiersey Clemons serves up is so good.
9. In Living Color: It’s about damn time for Dope. Sorry, Sixteen Candles. Move over Can’t Hardly Wait. We’ve been waiting for a smart, funny and poignant coming-of-age movie for young, black millennials and this is it. Taking lessons from Boyz n the Hood or Juice, this flick takes the experience of growing up in the hood through the lens of the modern hip-hop generation. Being young and black isn’t always so black and white; Dope delves into the many and important shades of grey.
10. Revenge of the Nerds: Who says nice guys finish last? Spoiler alert: The nerds get their revenge in Dope! Amid impossible odds, unexpected danger and zany adventures, Malcolm and his crew stick it out together like true best friends and win one for all of the straight A students, science geeks and social misfits out there.