“Sorry to Bother You” Is a Creative, Wild, and Zany Movie That Must Be Seen to Believe
The season of the summer blockbuster is upon us. That overcrowded action-film-packed time of the year where most movies feel distinctly similar and clichés run amok at cinemas across the country. Gear up for the latest superhero flick, or get ready for another heart throbbing rom-com. Then, there stands “Sorry to Bother You,” a movie that is so crazy and wild, so fresh and new, that it could perhaps provide a cure (if only temporary) to that blockbuster fatigue.
I can guarantee you this: “Sorry to Bother You” is the definition of one of a kind, truly a unique and zany movie that must be seen to be believed. It’s a decent spectacle that charts its path through satire, science fiction, mystery, romance and so much more. All at once it attempts to take down capitalism, shed a light on labor strife, be critical of advertising, open up dialogues on the nature of art and comment on the current state of our media. In its attempts to do all of that, however, it achieves only mild success: it’s a jack of all trades, but a master of none.
The film centers on the exploits of Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), an unemployed down-on-his-luck resident of Oakland, California as he struggles to make enough money just to get by. His girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) is an artist and sign-swinger extraordinaire. Without giving away too much of the plot, Cassius finds himself propelled into the seedy underworld of telemarketing where he learns he has a gift of having a “white voice”: a voice that allows him to mask his race while on the phone, allowing him to become a bigger and better seller.
Director Boots Riley has really gone out of the box with every aspect of this film. From that one crazy idea, a seemingly endless supply of wacky ideas unfold for the viewer, some with a brilliance rarely seen in films, others landing incredibly flat. The humor is somewhat similar: it walks the line between inventive fun and bland simplicity.
But while its ambition might get in the way of its greatness, the performances are solid. Stanfield does a well enough job shouldering the main role, but the real standout is Thompson as his girlfriend Detroit. She is the vehicle through which Riley comments on the state of art and Thompson plays her character wonderfully, mixing humor with seriousness at just the right time. She dominates the screen and takes life in front of the camera in a way her co stars don’t. By no means does she divert attention from the main attraction, but she is a welcome sight on the screen that is sure to delight. Also of note are some small and light appearances of Terry Crews and Danny Glover. Armie Hammer plays a spectacularly wacked out zany super villain that will leave fans of “Call Me By Your Name” heartbroken and stunned (in the best way possible).
Above all, “Sorry to Bother You” is fresh and new. It demands the attention of those who are willing to try something new beyond the faded superhero procedural and summer blockbuster craze. While it doesn’t accomplish all it sets out to do, it’s wildness and craziness will stick with you well after you leave the theater. Director Boots Riley has done what few directors these days do: he’s taken some risks in the creation of his film. That should be a well enough reason to give this a try.
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