Year: 2015
Production Co: Forest Whitaker's Significant Productions
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Writer: Rick Famuyiwa
Cast: Shameik Moore, Kiersey Clemons, Tony Revolori, A$AP Rocky, Zoë Kravitz

After garnering so much buzz at its Sundance debut I knew this had to go straight on my list, and having read all about the premise and tone, the movie had nothing left to do but either impress or disappoint me.

It actually did both. The set-up, of a trio of 90s hip-hop obsessed teens in the mean streets of present day Inglewood, has a lot of indie dramedy promise. But it gets a bit more propulsive with an inciting incident straight out of a more commercial comedy thriller, which ironically jars the initial Sundance-y tone a bit.

It does so because the film spends a good 20 minutes painting a picture of the lives of Malcolm (Shamiek Moore) and his best friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons). They want to grow up and get out of the hood intact and go to college, their punk band and Malcolm's distant admiration of hot neighbourhood girl Nakia (Zoë Kravitz) worthy occupations until they get there.

But when the talk their way into an exclusive party thrown by local drug dealer Dom (A$AP Rocky), things go south. A rival gang bursts in and bullets starts to fly, and when the guys flee, Malcolm later realises someone's stashed a wad of cash, bags of dope and a loaded gun in his nerdy backpack.

They know for three hood kids it's a one-way ticket to either jail or the grave, so they resolve to get rid of it. Their attempts to return the goods thwarted by plot contrivances, they set about using Bitcoins to sell it on the dark web. It seems like an attempt to contemporise the film, but it feels just as much an abrupt turn to another story, like the writer got a bit tired of the punk, 90s hip hop and gay tolerance.

It's also not the only bizarre aside. Another depicts the smoking hot sister (Chanel Iman) of a guy the gang recruits to help them move the stuff and her sexual pursuit of Malcolm – for a self confessed nerd and geek the audience is supposed to identify with, he has an awfully easy time getting sexual offers from women way out of his league.

After several more left turns and U-turns – including a blackmail plot against a local businessman I didn't understand – it finally ends, but not before suffering Lord of the Rings-style multi-climax syndrome.

Malcolm's friends are underdeveloped and (as you may have heard) the female characters are given very short shrift. It's far from perfect but it's earnest and you can see it's got the loving handprints of a director who cares all over it.

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