Let’s just keep it real. If Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Get Out) and Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok, West World) aren’t names you’re familiar with, I guarantee you that’s going to change after you’ve watched the hard-hitting dark comedy, Sorry to Bother You, by director and auteur, Boots Riley.
A story about a young, Black telemarketer by the name of Cassius Green (played brilliantly by Stanfield) who has to make the difficult choice of ignoring his conscious and climbing up the corporate ladder of the despicable company he works for, or doing what’s right and standing by those who want to expose them… And ultimately losing everything he’s worked so hard for.
There’s no point in reviewing this film in the traditional sense because I am here to tell you that you have to see it. Here are the five things that make Sorry to Bother You stand-out among all of the other summer movies that are saturating the theaters this summer. Aside from the fact that it’s funny as s**t, you must see it for the following reasons…
1. THE CULTURE
Boots Riley captures something in this movie that most mainstream films seem to almost always either forget, or just doesn’t think is important enough. He brings a fresh sense of art and style that is a reflection of the people where he shot the film. From the familiar locations of Oakland to the fashion, everything in this movie feels authentic. And speaking of the fashion, I can already see young women embracing the character Detroit’s (Tessa Thompson) message-driven, almost 90s hip-hop, throwback style in their current wear.
2. CAPITALISM GONE WRONG
In the time of “Trumpism,” and the worship of big business in America, Sorry to Bother You is timely. And though it may go to certain extremes to drive home the point of just how far corporations will go to make a profit, it dives even further into how far WE (the people) allow it to happen. It forces us to ask ourselves some real questions.
What would you be willing to go to not have to worry about paying your bills? Or to be able to live comfortably like pretty much anyone you see on TV? How would you react to a million dollar check in your face to sell out everything you believe in?
Cassius Green is basically all of us! And when faced with a chance to live a better life at the cost of few principles, he does what most of us might do.
3. INSPIRED FILMMAKING
Much like indie filmmakers of the early 90s (Spike Lee, Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater), the cinematic choices made brings a sorely missed originality. I almost feel that those of us who were around during that time we’re almost spoiled with the amount of creativity from young, hungry directors who changed the film business as we know it. Boots Riley vision ranks right up there with movies like School Daze or Slacker, in that Sorry to Bother You is almost indefinable when trying to place it in a category.
4. FINGER ON THE PULSE
Though this movie is set in a not-too-distant future, it’s a reflection of everything that we are living through right now. If anything, it’s more like a warning of where we are going if we continue down the path we’re on. For example, several times in the movie, the characters are seen watching the most popular show in America where contestants are paid a certain amount of money to let people beat the living s**t out of them and humiliate them.
As far-fetched as these scenes were, It really makes you wonder how far we actually are from this? Or worst… are already there?
5. STRAIGHT UP PASSION
Having spoken with Riley about making this film at the Scum and Villainy Cantina in Hollywood, he stated that this has been a project he’s been wanting to complete for many years. And it’s obvious when watching the film that he milks the most out of every scene and performance. All of the characters feel fully fleshed out. The dialogue was sharp and current. And the world he creates feels very “lived-in!”
Sorry to Bother You is a movie that takes a lot of chances, and after viewing, will provoke a lot of philosophical discussions. It isn’t your typical summer movie… or typical movie at all for that matter. But if you’re looking for something clever and funny that doesn’t involve world-ending tyrants or CGI aliens, this is something you can watch with some friends, and talk about later over a few beers.