‘Sorry to Bother You’ takes on capitalistic culture — and how we ignore it — in the most hilarious way possible
“Sorry to bother you”, but your friendly neighborhood billionaire would like to exploit you, please and thank you.
You’ll just have to take it up with your Congress member. Who likely doesn’t care. Your local newspaper (assuming it still exists). Or the internet (good luck commanding attention for serious issues among. Its many caverns of mindless entertainment and casual violence).
That is reality for Cassius Green (play by Lakeith Stanfield, who vibrates with comically naive existential anxiety). A rootless 20-something living in near future-Oakland. At the center of Boots Riley’s trippy, hilarious, all-over-the-place feature film debut, “Sorry to Bother You”, which opens Friday.
He take up residence in a swanky new apartment. He even becomes Steve Lift’s favorite new bauble. The price for all of this may not be Cassius’ soul, but it’s close.
Riley, an Oakland rapper with deep ties to the Occupy Wall Street movement. It takes a kitchen sink approach to his anti-capitalist satirical polemic. He mixes references to the stop-motion animation of Michel Gondry with the nation’s impending descent into brand doom as predict by Mike Judge’s Idiocracy.
Plenty of films have been imagining the dystopia that awaits us
If America’s billionaire class gets its way and the social safety net is gutt and income inequality is allow to proliferate uncheck. Ready Player One imagines an America in which the poor live in stacks of mobile homes and commit themselves to indenture servitude within a virtual world. In Hotel Artemis, Los Angeles is destroy by the worst riots it’s ever seen thanks to the privatization and commodification of clean drinking water.
Americans are mollify into accepting their screwed-up state with bright colors and the promise of something better. If they just work more, it’s an ugly world Riley’s captured, but it sure is a pleasure to look at. No one captures this irony quite like Cassius’ girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson). An artist who adorns herself with cheerful, one-of-a-kind earrings. That sport phrases such as “MURDERMURDERMURDER” and “KILLKILLKILL.”. Detroit knows the world is a disaster but shrugs and tries to make the best of it, resisting where she can.
Within its treatise on the sociopathy of uncheck billionaires and its indictment of apathy among the lower classes.
“Sorry to Bother You” offers a critique of meme culture and everything else that’s keeping most Americans asleep. The highest-rated show on television is one in which the audience watches a volunteer offer himself up for physical abuse on-screen. Then jeers wildly at his suffering. Torture Wheel of Fortune, essentially.
Riley’s film thrums with the energy and unnecessary tics of a filmmaker itching to empty the contents of his imagination into one crazy. That not-all-together coherent motion picture. This becomes hugely apparent in Sorry’s jaw-dropping, spoiler-fill final act. But as much as it leaves you wondering what you just watch (I initially describe it to a friend as Paul Beatty’s The Sellout on copious amounts of acid). Riley’s film manages to do something else: It leaves you wondering what on earth the rapper-turned-writer-director will have to say next.
Rating: R (for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use)
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By: Boots Riley
Stars: LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler
Written By: Boots Riley
In Theaters: Jul 13, 2018 Wide
On Disc/Streaming: Oct 23, 2018
Runtime: 105 minutes
Studio: Annapurna Pictures
“Sorry to Bother You” is as much a character-driven story about the gentrification of Oakland — and the Bay Area writ large — as it is an absurdist anti-capitalist fable.
Riley never once loses control. He sticks to the script. And the result is a triumph.
This bold new film not only shatters comedy’s cold streak, but also serves as a powerful reminder of the vitality of the genre as both social commentary and shared experience.