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Opening in Orlando: Dope and Inside Out


DopeIt wasn't until I entered college that I learned there were black nerds. Having grown up in a lily-white New Jersey suburb in the 1970s, I just naturally assumed all kids of color were streetwise, jive-talking sidekicks, like that funky Sly on James at 15. But one day, a brother walked through our dorm who was so flamboyantly a derpwad that I was transfixed. (Keep in mind that this was still in the years P.U., which means Pre-Urkel.) "He's a nerd!" I blurted out in amazed delight. To which a few of my African-American pals on the floor responded, "Yeah, he is. You thought we didn't have nerds?" "I thought you had nerds by your standards," I clarified. "That guy is even a nerd by ours!" Thirty years later, "geek" has mostly replaced "nerd" in the lexicon, so we'll be thoroughly P.C. and say that Malcolm (Shameik Moore), the hero of the Cannes hit and Sundance pickup Dope, is a black geek who learns valuable life lessons from a detour into the underground. Of course, whether you call him a geek or a nerd, this film's viability among mainstream audiences depends upon white people still being taken by surprise by the idea that not all black children are born talking and acting like Huggy Bear. Hey, the races have all sorts of unlikely subgroups: I hear there are even Latinos who do Crossfit! (R)

Inside Out The miracle of Pixar is that they've stolen the idea for just about every story they've ever told, but they usually do such great things with that pilfered material that you end up not minding. Toy Story was the Henson TV special The Christmas Toy, Wall-E was Silent Running, and Cars was, um, Christine. (Don't think; just go with it.) Disney-philes who know the parks like the back of their hand have opined that the setup of Inside Out seems like a swipe from Epcot's Cranium Command, but I'm sticking by my initial assessment that it's instead a knockoff of the '90s Fox series Herman's Head: The life of an 11-year-old girl is complicated by an imbalance among the anthropomorphized emotions that dwell within her. The feelings in question are Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness; hopefully, we'll get a sequel that catches up with our heroine as a teenager, 'cause I can't wait to meet Petulance, Ambivalence, Resentment, Self-Pity and More Petulance. In the meantime, initial reports are that Inside Out is a true heart-tugger that's gonna make you bawl the way you did when Emily abandoned Jessie the Cowgirl or Ellie upped and died on Carl Fredricksen. Hey, I always used to get choked up at the end of Flying Blind, so I'm clearly the target audience here. (PG)

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