Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Sorry to Bother You

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"If they take my stapler, then I'll set the building on fire." - Stephen Root, Office Space, 1999

"Work sucks, I know." - Mark Hoppus, Blink-182, All the Small Things, 1999

Work. Everyone of us who has a job hates it, even if just a little bit. The atmosphere, the people, the customers, the workload, the boss, & the pay. All the slaving around you do without much fanfare, all for the sake of a capitalistic society that doesn't appreciate the workers enough.

Sorry to Bother You is a "screw you" to capitalism, a thumbs up to unions, & a bitingly funny & outrageously bizarre satire of the American devotion to big business. Set in an alternate present-day version of Oakland, where the biggest game show is called I Got the $#*@ Kicked out of Me, & a new form of slavery called WorryFree, led by Steve Lift (played by Armie Hammer), is an enticing option, the film follows Cassius Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield), a 20-something living with his girlfriend, Detroit (played by Tessa Thompson), in the garage of his uncle, Sergio (played by Terry Crews). He is very nihilistic & believes that nothing he will do will make a difference in society.

Cassius then gets a job as a telemarketer for Regalview, a sales company. His friend, Salvador (played by Jermaine Fowler), also works there. The mantra of sticking to the script is heavily preached to the telemarketers. At first, Cassius struggles to make many sales. But an older colleague, Langston (played by Danny Glover), suggests that Cassius use his white voice; not a Will Smith white voice (as Langston states), but a full-on white voice. Cassius takes this advice, & starts using his white voice (voiced by David Cross) to great success.

Squeeze (played by Steven Yeun), a colleague of Cassius, creates a union to lobby for a raise in pay, & recruits Cassius for it. But despite being in the union, Cassius is promoted to the position of "Power Caller", where Mr. ______ [pronounced blank] (played by Omari Hardwick & voiced by Patton Oswalt) tells him to use his white voice at all times. Finally, Cassius is making a difference in society. But this may cost him what's really important in the long run.

The cast is superb. Lakeith Stanfield is showing that he can do wonders in a lead role. Armie Hammer is dynamite. Tessa Thompson is fantastic. And Terry Crews, as always, is hilarious.

Boots Riley's direction is spectacular. In his directorial debut, Riley is able to handle so many plotlines & ideas & themes like a seasoned veteran, & that's something rare in this day & age.

And Boots Riley's screenplay is brilliant. The plot is so weird, yet so intriguing. The characters are so idiosyncratic. The dialogue is hilariously offbeat. And the ideas & themes explored in this film add a lot of sociopolitical weight to the film.

This is one of the 3 best films of the year so far. It's a hilarious satire of the crazy, mixed-up world we live in, & certainly one of the weirdest films ever made.

Sorry to Bother You was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Thursday, July 12, 2018. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 105 minutes, & it is rated R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, graphic nudity, & drug use.

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