At first glance, “Sorry to Bother You” appears to be a fast-moving sendup of telemarketing with a message about social justice. Coming out of left field from rapper and activist Boots Riley, this film is all that and more. Green’s first foray into screenwriting and directing is as well-executed as any studio film, with a sensibility as original and well-developed as Terry Gilliam’s.
This movie tells the story of Cassius Green, a down-on-his-luck resident of Oakland who rises from his position as lowly telemarketer to the elite and insider status of “power caller.” In doing so, he becomes part of a world he never imagined. Lakeith Stanfield of “Get Out” plays Cassius Green, using his subtle body language and intense eyes to convey a strong sense of foreboding in spite of everything appearing calm on the surface. Tessa Thompson masterfully plays his trippy artist girlfriend, whose political statement earrings give us the first inkling that this isn’t your average comedy. Riley uses unexpected shifts of perspective. clever edits, and bizarre commercials reminiscent of “Time Bandits” to pull us into a surreal world that just keeps getting weirder. As Cassius tries to navigate this alternate reality, he struggles with the meaning of loyalty, success, assimilation, and selling out, until he at last comes face-to-face with the dangers of capitalism run amok.
“Sorry to Bother You” is full of surprises. Not only does it offer the expected slapstick and social commentary, but it often makes you cringe with dark comedy, racial humor, psychological horror and disturbing revelations designed to shock. It’s been a long time since a movie has been so surprising in such a delightful way.
Sorry to Bother You is currently available for rent on Amazon Prime.