Your weekly streaming pick come courtesy of HBO. There’s a lot of great stuff coming that I missed in their theatrical runs. Sorry to Bother You is a sci-fi comedy that has a lot more to say than the generic trailer lets on.
Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is broke. He shares a garage apartment with his girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson). Cass takes a job at a commission-based telemarketing company. The promise of being a ‘power caller’ is dangled in front of the mistreated workers. The prestigious promotion seems impossible to Cass. As a black man selling to a white client base, he has a hard time getting traction.
Langston (Danny Glover) gives Cass the tip on coming up with a ‘white voice’. The voice extends further to be a ‘white’ persona. Cass is a natural with his white voice (David Cross). The transformation brings him unparalleled success within the company. Cass turns on his abused worker friends and takes the promotion to power seller. Riding up the golden elevator promises wealth, but at what cost?
Directorial and written debut of Boots Riley the film shows unique style. The blend of absurd comedy and shocking social commentary is science fiction at its best. The more off the rails the movie gets on the surface the truer to life it feels. A complicated dance that Riley pulls off wonderfully thanks to his talented and committed cast.
Sorry to Bother You is currently available on HBO
Science fiction at its core is a way to tell stories of social relevance without being preachy and on the nose. There’s a great feeling of division and social turmoil in our world making more and more movies leaning in this direction.
Sorry to Bother You may have done better in its theatrical run if the advertising did it justice. The movie was touted to be another run of the mill comedy with obvious racial jokes playing on stereotypes. This wasn’t the case for a minute of the movie. There is an odd sense of comedy throughout the whole thing and race is a big part of that. Stereotypes are never played up for laughs and the comedy is to point out absurdity rather than get a cheap laugh.
The two leads of the project are both young talents to keep an eye on. Lakeith Stanfield has somewhat quietly been growing his career. I say quietly to mean his career has grown by leaps and bounds since 2013 without any major tent pole franchises. Stanfield comes across as an actor with serious social awarness. His resume includes Short Term 12, Selma, Snowden, Atlanta, and of course, Get Out.
The co-lead of the movie is more of a household name by now. Especially in the geek community. Tessa Thompson plays Cass’s girlfriend. The free spirited Detroit stands out as a colorful character in the movie, it’s just a shame she didn’t have more to do. Her role devolves a bit as the movie goes on to choosing one guy over another without much consequence. Her story is more Cass’s story and the caliber actor Thompson is she really deserved more.
A clever look at society wrapped in bright colored packaging. Sorry to Bother You is as absurdly funny as it is intelligent. Riley, Stanfield, and Thompson are complimented by an outstanding supporting cast.