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Dope

A geek from Inglewood has to go gangsta in the sleeper hit of this year’s Sundance

Quincy Brown, Kiersey Clemons, Shameik Moore and Tony Revolori in 'Dope.'

Quincy Brown, Kiersey Clemons, Shameik Moore and Tony Revolori in 'Dope.'

Rachel Morrison/Open Road Films

Teen nerds navigating the mean streets of Inglewood, California — that’s the spark that ignites Dope, a woozy but wild comic ride from writer-director Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood), whose obsession with Nineties hip-hop, BMX bikes, skateboards, manga comics and “other shit white people like” helps to define the film’s main character.

That’s Malcolm, played by Shameik Moore in a smashing breakout performance. Malcolm (catch the flattop) fronts a punk band with his besties Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons, both crazy good), aspires to Harvard and is such a throwback that bullies want to crush him. Thuggish Dom (A$AP Rocky) asks Malcolm to hook him up with hottie Nakia (Zoë Kravitz). But at a club, there’s a shootout and Dom’s dope ends up in Malcolm’s backpack, plus a gun, forcing the geeks to go gangsta. No spoilers on what happens next. Just know that Famuyiwa keeps the action spinning with vibrant speed and rare sensitivity. He’s made a comedy of social expectation that plays like an exhilarating gift.

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