Hip-hop artist Boots Riley's first film will, indeed bother you — but in a politically and socially relevant way that's appropriately troubling.
"Sorry to Bother You" is like taking an acid trip that wasn't on the itinerary. This is one risky, wayward and rewarding film, destined to become a cult classic.
Lakeith Stanfield plays Cassius Green, an unemployed black man who lives with his performance artist girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson) in his uncle's garage. One day he puts forty cents worth of gasoline in his "bucket" car and hauls off to apply for a job. Lying his way through the interview pays off, even when caught doing so. It seems to be a prerequisite on the road to becoming a successful telemarketer.
Cassius has a knack for the job once he takes the advice of a co-worker (Danny Glover) to use a white voice, but not "Will Smith white." It pays off big time and Cassius' dream of advancing to the status of "Power Caller" comes true. Riding high with new digs, a fancy automobile and a power wardrobe, he suddenly realizes that he's selling slavery over the phone. As his co-workers are attempting to unionize, Cassius is preying on unfortunate human beings via corporate immorality.
Hip-hop artist Boots Riley ("The Coup") writes and directs in this, his first film, which hits every hot button with nerve and verve. Blowing your mind at every turn, he manages to captivate his audience without providing an escape. You travel down the rabbit hole with Cassius because, like him, you can't wait to see what's around the corner. There's not an ounce of predictability in this descent-into-madness film experience.
Riley employs a range of humor, sophisticated, dark, slapstick and downright sick. Armie Hammer is deliciously smarmy as a CEO hooked on blow, who has secretly created a new breed of species he calls equisapiens (no spoilers, you have to see for yourself). The most popular TV show in Riley's version of America is "I Got The Shit Kicked Out Of Me " which speaks volumes in this socially relevant satirical farce.
Casting Lakeith Stanfield ("Get Out" TV's "Atlanta") in the lead was a stroke of genius. His metamorphosis from good guy to one who's morally bereft is simply brilliant to behold. And Tessa Thompson's ("Dear White People") performance plays perfectly off of Stanfield's, holding her own and stealing some thunder.
"Sorry to Bother You" will surely bother you. If it doesn't, check your pulse. But it does so in such unexpected ways, you can't look away. It's a bit like watching the news and pretending it isn't really happening. Right?