Published on July 13th, 2018 | by Dan Nicholls0
Sorry to Bother You
Whoa. What did we just see? If you’re tired of the summer season bloat there’s nothing more refreshing than Sorry to Bother You out there.
Get the kids a sitter and munch down on an edible (if that’s your thing) – Sorry to Bother You is the trippiest, wildest movie of the year so far. It’s almost kind of inexplicably difficult to describe without opening a whole can of worms. A comedy-satire-fantasy-sci-fi unique to its own self, writer-director Boots Riley, and his leading man Lakeith Stanfield have left an imprint on cinema in 2018.
Our protagonist Cassius Green (Stanfield) is broke and living in his uncle’s garage with his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) when we first meet him. He’s timid, touchy, and cunningly clever. When he gets a job as a telemarketer to pay the bills he rockets to the top by putting on his “white voice” (lip-synched by David Cross) and his higher-ups (including a scene-stealing Armie Hammer) take notice. His ascension comes with a price, Cassius soon learns, and he finds himself in for an unexpected battle for his soul.
If you’ve seen the trailers then you know more or less what to expect – until the end of the second act. It’s a brave stroke that leaves you struggling to find your balance after taking a narrative knock to the noggin. As if the supporting cast, score by Tune-Yards, and eye-popping cinematography weren’t enough already, we get a movie with a message that flips the script on its head.
This is a firecracker of a debut from Boots Riley. There are a few moments when he lacks the confidence of a more experienced director – certain things are repeated ad nauseum, as if really wanting to make sure we got the point – but he has total control of his vision, his story, and his actors. And those actors pull it off in spades – Stanfield is wonderful and Thompson continues her streak as the most magnetic performer working in film today. Armie Hammer is also of note ratcheting up to 11, as is Danny Glover as Cassius’s cubicle neighbor.
The whole thing feels like Charlie Kaufman meets Spike Lee colliding with Riley’s own singular voice. Kaufman was mentored by Michel Gondry, who receives a notable wink here, and who can be felt in nearly every other frame of the movie. Riley’s influencers are good choices of visual storytellers to aspire to. Consider his writing a shoo-in for a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award nomination next year.
Movie geeks are gonna freak out to this one but casual moviegoers are in for an experience to remember as well. The movie is just so damn entertaining while being so jagged, raw, and piercingly timely. If you’re tired of the summer season bloat there’s nothing more refreshing than Sorry to Bother You out there.