Title – Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Director – Boots Riley (feature debut)
Cast – Lakeith Stanfield, Tess Thompson, Steven Yeun, Terry Crews, Danny Glover, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Armie Hammer
Plot – Set in an alternate version of Oakland, desperate to be employed Cassius Green (Stanfield) gets a job at a telemarketing company and quickly begins to climb the corporate ranks, only to find out that making it to the top isn’t all its talked up to be.
“Don’t listen to what I say. Listen to what I want”
Review by Eddie on 12/12/2018
If you’re looking to track down one of (if not the most original) cinematic offerings of 2018, then there’s no need to look any further than debut director Boot’s Riley’s Sorry to Bother You.
A film that defies any specific type of pigeonholing, Bother is a mix of social commentary, biting satire, black comedy and oddball science fiction yarn set in an alternate version of the city of Oakland that follows Lakeith Stanfield’s meandering Cassius Green finding himself a new job and a new skill as a telemarketer but that’s only part of the story that ends up unfolding in Riley’s gonzo experience.
Saying too much more about Bother’s arc and little surprises would ruin much of the fun to be found in the film but suffice to say there will be places you didn’t expect to be visiting as we follow Green’s plight from lifeless office worker to top of the food chain “power caller” that sees him interact with a range of colourful characters such as Armie Hammer’s arrogant CEO Steve Lift, Danny Glover’s wise old office hand Langston, Steven Yeun’s fiery protest organiser Squeeze, Terry Crews long suffering house owner Sergio and Tessa Thompson’s artistic soul Detroit.
Along this eccentric ride that’s filled with colour, sass and more than a few smarts, Riley examines a number of current hot topic issues in imaginative ways and while the film begins to lose steam deep into its second half, this is one of the more promising and inventive debuts in some time and it’s safe to say that Riley’s transition from musical artist to filmmaker is one to keep a very close eye on if he can conjure up this type of originality again.
Bother also acts as a fine showcase for its lead cast members with Stanfield the best his been yet on the big screen after bit parts in the likes of Short Term 12, Get Out and Selma.
At first awkward and mopey, Green’s transformation into a self-confident soul that morphs once more into concerned citizen is a bizarre one that Stanfield plays pitch-perfectly, ably supported by Thompson as long-suffering girlfriend Detroit, with the young actress once more delivering a turn that strengthens her case to be considered the best young actress working today.
Final Say –
Needing to be seen to be believed, Sorry to Bother You is an outrageously original offering that works across all its many genres. At times hilariously funny and at other times socially confronting, this is one of the year’s most memorable offerings.
4 soft-drink projectiles out of 5
The 2010s have been hit-or-miss when it comes to satirical works, but Sorry to Bother You is certainly one of the stronger ones because it doesn’t try to have its cake and eat it. Many 2010s satirical works present a patently unrealistic premise and insist it’s 100% realistic whereas this one actually pokes fun at itself and its weirder elements. That goes a long way in making it easier to take seriously.
This was certainly one of the best satires I had seen in a long time!
That ability to poke fun at itself also went a long way in making the message more personable. It’s far more effective than the standard, overly confrontational approach.
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Pretty much agreed with everything you said. This is a genre-hopping flick that needs to be seen to be believed, I agree,.. especially the last act!! It certainly is original!
Love me those genre melts mate. Always enjoy seeing filmmakers take some risks that work.
I think its also really clear that Boots had wanted to make a movie for a long time. It shows