In celebration of Black History Month, we’re making daily movie recommendations, presented in chronological order of the films’ stories.
Stay tuned to Noovie every day as we highlight an original, landmark film worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.
February 25 – Dope (2015)
Filmmaker Rick Famuyiwa (“The Wood,” “Brown Sugar”) takes on the teen comedy-drama with this bold 2015 feature that finds his trio of affable, ‘90s obsessed adolescent nerd heroes involved in an adventure through the gritty neighborhoods of Inglewood, California, that’s part “Risky Business,” part “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” part “Boyz in the Hood,” and something entirely its own.
It’s a tough-minded but upbeat concoction that premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and found multiple studios vying for distribution rights.
Open Road Films was the eventual winner, and released the film to critical and audience acclaim, earning an $18 million return on the film’s $7 million budget.
Malcolm Adekanbi (Shameik Moore in a star making turn) and his two friends, Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) are likable, high-achieving high-schoolers who do their best to avoid trouble while excelling in academics and pursuing their hobbies, much of it centered on their ‘90s pop culture fixation.
The bike-riding trio find themselves in a predicament, though, when Malcolm’s invitation to a local party turns deadly after a shootout occurs, and the trio find themselves in possession of a backpack loaded with drugs and a gun. Instructed by drug dealer Dom (ASAP Rocky) to deliver the goods to a guy named AJ, the kids find themselves going deeper down a rabbit hole that somehow connects Malcom’s interviewer from Harvard to all the shady proceedings.
There’s one way out for all of them, but it’s a risky proposition that involves Bitcoins, and the dealer’s attractive ex-girlfriend Nakia (Zoe Kravitz). Director-writer Famuyiwa balances a lot of different tones, and some scary violence, with a commendable ease that emphasizes the ever-optimistic attitudes of his kids, who are used to a life that has its pleasures and real danger.
Inglewood has its share of real-life grimness…but the sky is still blue, the palm trees are in bloom, and the teens still like riding their bikes.
Produced by Forest Whitaker, executive produced by Pharrell Williams, and co-executive produced by Sean Combs, “Dope” is a colorful comedy that maintains a sunny, hip disposition and a broad appeal for every type of genre film lover, from John Hughes fans to the John Singleton set.
It’s also built to last for millennials and Gen Z. Basically, there’s something here for everyone to appreciate.
Where to Watch
Comedy / 2015 / R
Synopsis: High-school senior Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) bond over '90s hip-hop culture, their studies and playing music in their own punk band. A chance encounter with a drug dealer named Dom lands Malcolm and company at the dealer's nightclub birthday party; when the scene turns violent, they flee -- with the Ecstasy that Dom secretly hid in Malcolm's backpack. A wild adventure ensues as the youths try to evade armed thugs who want the stash.