“Sorry to Bother You” Blends Genres and Features a Unique and Humorous Script


By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

Boots Riley makes his theatrical directorial debut with “Sorry to Bother You,” based on the script he wrote, as well as songs featured in the film. Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You” has taken the sci-fi, fantasy and comedy genres to another level – very unique and humorous – meanwhile showing the viewer the status of race, labor and capitalism in an alternate version of Oakland California.

The story of Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield, “Short Term 12,” “Selma”) trying to make a living and have a roof over his head is a very common one, but unfortunately there comes a time that this can conflict with what he believes in. Riley has created another world, yet the themes shine through as to appear absurd and unbelievable looking at it from our present world view. Riley’s alternate world is not a story that will appeal to all film fans, but the very real universal themes addressed should not be missed, as there is some humor to be found. Aside from humor though, it is an eye-opener and something to think about as the world of the workforce is ever evolving, from humans to machines and perhaps otherwise.

“Sorry to Bother You” contains a great cast of both established stars and actors making a mark with their recent work, especially Stanfield in the lead, after supporting roles in “Straight Outta Compton” and “Get Out.” Tessa Thompson (“Thor: Ragnorok,” “Creed,” “Selma”) plays Cash’s girlfriend, Detroit, and is an outstanding force in her performance as a gallery artist with a small side gig. Several co-workers in the telemarketing company and friends in the film are Salvador (Jermaine Fowler), Squeeze (Steven Yeun, “The Walking Dead” TV series), and Langston (Danny Glover). They are good supporting performances but the very talented actor who can play diverse roles, Armie Hammer (“Nocturnal Animals,” “Free Fire”), totally stands out as he portrays his character, Steve Lift, the CEO of WorryFree. Any Hammer fan will enjoy how he takes the CEO role to the wild level created by Riley. Not seen on screen, but taking on the role of the “white voices” of various characters, are David Cross, Steve Buscemi, Patton Oswalt and Lily James. They provide a great deal of humor to the movie, but it is something that has to be viewed and heard during the film to be appreciated. There is a long list of cast that is not credited, but even Forest Whitaker and Rosario Dawson have small roles in the film.

Riley is also known as the director of “The Coup: The Best Coup DVD Ever” and song writer for several songs on nine soundtracks, including “Superbad” and “The Losers.” Stanfield also has a long history of musicianship as well, and there is one scene where Cash has to “take the stage” by request at one of the CEO’s parties. I won’t describe it here in order not to spoil the film for anyone, but it is not to be missed. Aside from music by Riley, the other excellent composers include The Coup, Merrill Garbus and the Tune-Yards.

For anyone who is looking for other than (or already seen) the summer action blockbusters and animated family films, take a chance with your movie bucks to view the film –even for a matinee. The story of “Sorry to Bother You” is smart, so viewers who enjoy good writing will definitely enjoy the ride.

“Sorry to Bother You” premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the SXSW Film Festival in March as part of the Festival Favorites category. “Sorry to Bother You” is in limited theatrical release in Austin on Friday, July 6th and expands on July 13th.

It runs 105 minutes and is rated R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use.

Source: Annapurna Pictures

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