Over the weekend Inglewood was front stage as millions of movie goers around the nation lined up to see Inglewood native, filmmaker and writer, Rick Famuyiwa’s DOPE.
The director is responsible for films such as, “The Wood,” “Our Family Wedding,” and “Brown Sugar.” His latest project, DOPE centers around an out-of- place geek named Malcolm who is on a solid path to college when he finds himself in the middle of a drug deal gone sour.
The film captures the usual Inglewood landmarks: Randy’s Donuts, MSG Forum, Market Street, the Thurgood Marshall Bridge, and Hollywood Park among others. DOPE, unfortunately, casts the typical antiquated perspective on life in the City of Champions. Famuyiwa showcases images of dozens of gang members terrorizing neighborhoods, drive-by shootings, and run down living conditions.
Executive-produced by Pharrell Williams and Sean “Diddy” Combs, DOPE pushes across the message that being smart is cool and supports the idea of multiculturalism through the character’s close friendships and his relationship with a white kid he met at camp when they were younger.
The best part about the film is most definitely the 90’s infused soundtrack that takes you on a time machine back to the Golden Era of Hip Hop as songs by Digable Planets, Public Enemy, Nas, and A Tribe Called Quest fill the theater with boom bap and dense lyricism.
It would have been nice for the characters to have a higher sense on social awareness, especially due to the fact that they claimed to be connoisseurs of the era. The film however, was a family fun adventure and the filmmakers clearly wanted to score more profits than make political statements that could potentially railroad the film’s box office potential—once again putting black cinema at the hands of profit as opposed to being a voice representative of the current climate of this country.
It pains me to critique other black artists at times, especially in film. I understand there is a drought of interested investors—not only with enough capital to make a decent film that doesn’t require going around permit offices—but to make a film, period. There are probably one to two black films that get made a year, and chances are, they are financed by the Hollywood system which is interested in selling tickets as opposed to authenticity and proper cultural representation.
I think this film is for the moviegoer who is satisfied with the simple fact that there is somewhat of a positive message in the piece, and likes 90’s music, because that’s about as DOPE as the film was for me.