Written and directed by Boots Riley and starring Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson, the comedy/fantasy/sci-fi film Sorry to Bother You is set in an alternate, present-day Oakland, where telemarketer Cassius Green (Stanfield) discovers the key to professional success. While the key opens doors he never imagined, it also puts him smack dab in the middle of a very controversial and dangerous situation.
This film is complex, with many, many, many, many themes. The story is more about class than race. The owner versus the employee, the one who holds the purse strings vs. the one in need of money, the 99% vs. the 1%, etc. The under educated and disadvantaged, vs. the privileged. Those who have acquired some measure of success and/or wealth vs. those still struggling to do so. The Powers that Be vs. the rest of us. The racial issues were obvious and credible and were still directly related to classism. In this way, this is a very smartly written film.
Sorry to Bother You feels uncomfortable at times, because along with the funny moments there are moments where you question whether you should be laughing. It has this element of pure horror/science fiction that feels ridiculous on one hand, but on the other hand is not so far-fetched that one couldn’t believe that something similar might actually happen. The depiction of this near-future or alternate present day, semi-dystopian society is an exaggeration of where we (as a society) are headed and it’s not very far off from where our society is right now in terms of the things that hold our attention and the things we ignore and let slide.
The acting is solid. It is sometimes intentionally over the top, comical and alarming – at times, all at once. Lakeith Stanfield is so steady it’s always a pleasure to watch him. I’d love to see him play a different type of character for a change of pace – but I won’t knock the man for getting in where he fits in. The supporting cast did a great job, and since I didn’t watch one trailer and had no idea who else was in this movie I got a lot of fun surprises.
While the somewhat original story (I can think of a book it mirrors somewhat, but believe me, you’ll figure it out for yourself when you see it. We’ve all read it, if not at least heard of it and know what the book is about.) is very interesting, Sorry to Bother You is not without problems. Most noticeably, there is one major plot hole I can’t get over which really brought the caliber of the movie down quite a few pegs because there was no explanation as to how this event came about. There were times when Sorry to Bother You tries too hard and feels force. Also, there are so many themes that the story feels as if it needed to be reeled-in in some instances and fleshed out more in others.
Sorry to Bother You earned 8.0 out of 10 bloops. It is not everybody’s cup of tea, for certain. It is weird. But for those of you who like this type of film it is a great movie that shouldn’t be missed. After thinking about it (and you will think about it after watching), it is one of those movies that needs to be watched at least twice to get the full breadth of it, but I don’t think I want to watch it again; at least no time soon. Sometimes a disturbing or thought provoking movie merits a second watch, like The Shape of Water or Get Out or The Lobster (my reviews for each may be found in the links). While Sorry to Bother You may be semi-original, interesting and enjoyable with plenty of depth, it fails to provoke my thoughts enough that I feel that need for a second watch. It’s a great accomplishment for Riley’s first feature film and he certainly started off with a bang. I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m seeing/reviewing next…
Too many to name. I’ll be at the movies all weekend!
Avengers: Infinity War
You Were Never Really Here
A Quiet Place
Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time
The Florida Project
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The Big Sick
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
I Am Not Your Negro