Movie Talk with Jake Salinas

REVIEW: “SORRY TO BOTHER YOU” is One of the Most Surreal and Brilliant Socially Conscious Comedies in Years (SXSW 2018)


Toward the end of Sorry To Bother You, the directorial debut of Boots Riley, people were walking out of the film. The film had started to become so surreal and so bizarre that it through me off, and it threw the whole audience off. But I loved how f-ed up and bizarre this wildly inventive and hilarious film gets, especially toward the end. The fact that people couldn’t handle the chaos at the end of this film is a testament to Riley as a filmmaker, and the film itself. Sorry To Bother You has been making waves and headlines since it debuted at Sundance back in January, and it will continue to do so, especially after yesterday’s screening and when Anapurna Pictures releases the film later this summer. This is by far the best film of 2018, and the best I’ve seen up to this point at SXSW.

Lakeith Stanfield plays Cassius Green, a telemarketer living with his uncle Sergio (Terry Crews) and his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) in Oakland. But this is an alternate reality of what Oakland and America is like, but judging by the kind of President we have in the White House, it might not be too far-fetched, and I don’t want to give too much away other than saying that. Cassius rises to the top in his telemarketing company and is promoted to the top corporate office, and that’s honestly all I’m going to tell you about this film. Trust me when I say the less you know about this film, the better.

Riley directs a screenplay that he wrote, and his debut as a filmmaking is very promising. You might recognize his name from his diverse and fascinating hip-hop career, and his work as a first-time director is just as fascinating and diverse. The way he portrays American life in this film, and how the richest of the rich will go to any lengths to continue staying rich and get even richer, and how the rest of the world and society is able to fight that abuse. I feel like I’ve said too much about the film, but I feel that it’s vague enough.

Stanfield is great in the film as the lead, as is Tessa Thompson. Both of them have become some of the best emerging talents working today, with Stanfield showing promise from his appearances in Get Out and on the television series Atlanta, with Thompson appearing in Creed and on Westworld, and I have no doubt that this wildly unique comedy will continue to raise the profiles of these two wildly talented actors.  There’s a great supporting cast to be seen in this film as well. Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead plays Cassius’s coworker Squeeze, Danny Glover plays another fellow coworker, Jermaine Fowler plays Cassius’s buddy, and Armie Hammer gives one of the most entertaining performances of his career as Steve, a multibillionaire, and that’s all I want to say about his work in the film. Everyone is great in this film, and it helps that they’re supported by a wildly talented first-time writer-director in Boots Riley.

When this film comes out, and you see this film (which I urge you to), there will definitely be some major polarization. You’ll either be like me and think this film is brilliant, or you could end up like the people who walked out of the screening yesterday and can’t handle how crazy the film really gets. But for the brave few that do see this film, sit through the whole thing, and appreciate the art that Boots Riley has given us, I think you’re going to be just fine with Sorry To Bother You, one of the funniest and most surreal comedies to come out in recent memory. The film will be released in July of this year, and I hope you buy a ticket to film when it’s released.


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