I’m going to cut to the chase with this review. Boots Reilly’s premiere feature length film is fucking fantastic. It’s the sort of film that only comes maybe once a decade – an independent film that is funny, well-acted, and creative in a way that I can’t remember seeing since Spike Lee’s Bamboozled. Except that this isn’t Reilly’s 15th film, like Bamboozled was for Lee, this is Reilly’s opener. Oh and it’s better, and I loved Bamboozled.
If you’re familiar with Boots Reilly at all you you probably know him from his band, The Coup, which provides the excellent music for Sorry to Bother You. Actually, if you follow this site, you’re just as likely to know him from Occupy Oakland. Boots isn’t just a radical artist he’s an actual radical activist (who is an excellent artist).
It’s rare that you can find an artist not only is good at what he does, but can also bring out the best in others. Reilly does this not only in his music, his activism but in film. Every piece of Sorry to Bother You just blends. The music, the actors, hell even Tessa Thompson’s earrings – they all work – something that is surprisingly rare on low budget films like this.
You’ll notice I haven’t actually talked about what happens in the film yet. There’s a reason for that. Now, there’s no Sixth Sense “I see dead people” moment in this film – but having seen this film nearly promotionally blind, I feel as though it was way more enjoyable.
I recommend watching the trailer – as it’s a really good one – and going in blind other than that. I will say this -it’s meant to shock, not really in a Saw or Hostel way, though there are some “WHAT THE FUCK” scenes. It’s also meant to shock your perceptions of capitalism and generally the way the world works. It’s a bit of a critique (whether purposeful or not) on activism, and it does that in a way that not many films that I can ever remember actually succeeds at. It does Hollywood-ize the activism make it too epic or sacrificial – the people in the film are just people. If you work around activism on the left – you’re going to recognize these people, which makes it a lot more fun.
As a lefty journalist and former activist Sorry to Bother You was a ball to watch and even more fun to discuss with people coming out of the theater whose minds were blown. This is the first film I’ve ever had a a discussion with three random people in the theater bathroom about.
One more thing – GO SEE IT IN THE THEATER! I’m sure it’ll be available on video streaming platforms in a couple months, and make sure you buy it the moment it comes out… but theatrical runs are incredibly important not only for the attention that a film gets for award season, but also for when Reilly goes to producers and distributors in the future with film scripts. If you want to see more films like this one – and I just mean truly independent films – then support them. Bring a bunch of your friends, talk about it online. If you do – make sure you tag me and I really want to talk to more people about this film.
*Earlier I compared the film to Bamboozled, but those who have seen Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man! will probably find it a lot more similar to that. Sorry’s discussion of the lengths that people have to go to just to get by is incredibly similar to Malcolm McDowell ‘s coffee salesman. Sadly, the chances are good you haven’t even heard of this film, so I won’t go on, other to say that please check it out, after you’ve seen Sorry to Bother You.