Following its initial premiere at this year’s Sundance, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You is now due to hit theaters July 6. The comedy marks the Oakland rapper’s directorial debut and if reviews are anything to go by, it’s a strong one.
The script, also penned by Riley, follows the daily life of Bay Area telemarketer, Cassius Green (played by Atlanta‘s Lakeith Stanfield), as he learns to navigate his new job, an experience which veers into surreal territory when Green begins to use his “white voice” to rise up the corporate ladder.
Critics seem united on the film, with Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers praises Riley’s “knockout directing debut” while J.R. Kinnard at the Seattle Times praised the movie’s “fearless satire.”
In case you missed it, watch the trailer below and read on to see what critics are saying about Sorry to Bother You.
Both Riley and ‘Get Out’s’ Jordan Peele have recreated our world but cracked through with a surreal seam that makes its hidden evils unmissable.
There’s nothing safe about Boots Riley’s film-nothing predictable, nothing derivative or generic, nothing routine.
Riley has clearly held nothing back and after 25+ years of using his voice and unique point of view in the world of hip-hop, this is as audacious an entry into the world of feature filmmaking as one could possibly make.
Some of it works, some of it leaves you scratching your head. But director Boots Riley is one to watch.
Once Cassius starts using his very Caucasian vocals (supplied by David Cross), he becomes the office wunderkind. What makes it truly funny: The white voices (purposely?) don’t quite sync up with the black actors’ lips, so it’s kind of like a badly dubbed Godzilla movie.
One thing Riley, leader of the band The Coup, clearly has going for him is connections. The assembly of on-camera talent here is impressive, from charismatic new-generation discoveries like Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson and Jermaine Fowler to distinguished veteran Danny Glover, lending his customary twinkly-eyed wit.
Though David Cross provides the “white” voice, it’s the Atlanta star who finds the inner core of rage that turns Riley’s sendup into a comedy of shocking gravity. This could be the season’s big sleeper hit.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
‘Sorry to Bother You’ is a timely, scalpel-sharp social satire with big laughs and even bigger ideas.
Riley dramatizes outrageously complex machinations of predatory greed and depraved misrule-and offers a passionate, joyous vision of resistance.
This is ultraprogressive, radical storytelling that manages to stay totally joyful and inventive throughout. Riley manages to both never come off as taking the thing too seriously, but he also verbalizes his intersectional, anti-capitalist ideals in visually unforgettable fashion.
Weirdness for the sake of weirdness, minus the payoff. Despite flashes of ingenuity throughout, this off-the-walls stick-it-to-the-man lampoon never lives up to its fantastic first half.
Rapper Boots Riley’s first feature film shows a great deal of spirit and promise, and further secures Lakeith Stanfield as the one of the key performers of the moment. That’s my very polite way of saying I respect this movie, but wanted to like it more than I actually did.
‘Sorry to Bother You’ is hit-and-miss, alternatingly socially-conscious and ludicrous, packing in so many ideas that it doesn’t always cohere.
‘Sorry to Bother You’ is so strong that it’s easy to ignore how underwritten its supporting characters are.
Paradoxically, the more ridiculous Riley’s gonzo social critique gets, the more boring it becomes, to the point that its out-of-control second half starts to feel like some kind of bad trip.
Sorry to Bother You hits theatres July 6.
In case you missed it, here’s a critics review of James DeMonaco’s ‘The First Purge.’