You’ve seen LA’s menacing Inglewood in the movies before – a hood of bouncing low-riders and uneasy staredowns – but not, I’m guessing, in an indie comedy that totally reinvents the teens-on-a-wacky-misadventure movie. ‘Dope’ presents a trio of lovable dorks: Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Revolori, the bellboy in ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons). What do they like doing? Getting good grades, listening to classic ’90s hip hop, BMX biking and playing in their punk band, Oreo. As Malcolm says: ‘white stuff’.
Writer-director Rick Famuyiwa never quite sends his nerdlings to the slaughterhouse, even as they accidentally get involved in a drug deal and the underworld. Instead, he doubles down on an applying-to-Harvard satire that both upends demographic expectations while insisting (at times a bit strenuously) that we all aim a little higher. ‘Dope’ has thrilling moments, flies like ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ and displays a caustic intelligence that glints fast and furious.