Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You
Boots Riley, Lakeith Stanfield, Terry Crews and Tessa Thompson

Rated: R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: July 6, 2018 Released by: Annapurna Pictures

A strangely colorful, unsubtle provocation comes via long-time hip-hopper Boots Riley whose singular debut displays much promise.

Sarcastically-sounding Sorry To Bother You has the writer/director going to outrageous, audacious lengths to make points about modern society in terms of free-enterprise, privilege, art and internet videos when pitched exploitatively from an Oakland, Calif. setting.

Lakeith Stanfield (TV's Atlanta, Get Out and Short Term 12) is true to his desperate Cassius Green dwelling in the basement of his uncle (Terry Crews) with artist/activist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson of Thor: Ragnarok and Creed).

The struggling guy (known as Cash) can't fool an interviewer at a telemarketing firm (RegalView) about what he brings to the table and still gets the gig (for a position which isn't known for its skill-set). The intrusiveness of unsolicited communication is sharply amusing on a visual level when trying to sell encyclopedias to folks when it comes to Cash and his cubicle in the area of the place he's reaching.

To transfer from the basement to "Power Caller" he'll need a nasally David Cross "white voice" not Will Smith's as suggested by amicable co-worker Langston (Danny Glover). Being prominent in sales has its dubious ramifications in going against striking former colleagues like Squeeze (Steven Yeun), but keeping quiet about his preying role for WorryFree, operated by Steve Lift, a cocky, addled Armie Hammer of The Birth of a Nation. The company ensures a happy and healthy life — no commuting or bills to pay if a lifetime labor contract is honored.

The filmmaking suggests a surreal whimsy (with an undeniably off-center verve like Michel Gondry) when the absurdist plotting takes hold to the degree that doesn't suggest enough marksmanship by the helmsman. Still, the uniqueness (with sheep's blood, explicit equines and stop-motion animation) around a candid television game show filled with commercials depicting a cheery, carefree existence WorryFree espouses is part of hit-or-miss though always intense take-off.

Stanfield ably goes with the challenging, if zany material (like Riley hopes audiences, even those outside his domain, will). In the process a depressing subjection countered by liberation and awareness has him responding in effortless form to pungencies offered by the likes of Thompson and Hammer in a mindful and memorable, but not so exhilarating trip. Though one that may very well put Riley up by his bootstraps. 

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Sorry to Bother You        B                        B 

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