The movie strikes one of my favorite balances: it’s weird and stylish without being avant-garde or impenetrable. It’s obviously a movie telling a story, there’s no question of “wait, did that happen ,” or “did I misunderstand the purpose of that scene,” there are little splashes of excitement and whimsy that separate it from a movie made by anyone other than Boots Riley. Scott Pilgrim and Dazed and Confused fill that same role for me, and they’re some of my all-time faves. A movie can score so many extra points from me just for trying. It can be a “bad movie” and still wedge itself into my heart (I’m lookin’ at you, Smokin’ Aces).
It draws a lot from Idiocracy, which is a hard comparison to avoid given Terry Crews’s similarly small role in both and the popularity of self-abuse game shows (though the timbre of this flick’s 150-million-viewer strong I Got The Shit Kicked Out of Me is a measure darker). I felt StBY was less cynical, though. Even with the folks happy to be slaves under Silicon-Valley endgame company Worryfree, Idiocracy opens with humanity already totally done for. And I always appreciate cynicism in the service of utopia rather than a bitter stew.
The bloody head-wound worsening until his third act redemption was on-the-nose, but Lakeith’s stagger throughout made him look weighed down. The world is always crushing him. And now I’m embarrassed that I didn’t register whether or not it persisted after that same redemption moment.
Armie Hammer did a pitch-perfect sneering Winklevii, so it stands to reason that he’d be the best fit for the sort of dictator tech-bro we see ascending to power around us every day. He’s won me over, big time, and I love comparing his maxed-out persona here with the snuggly big-brother-lover he played in Call Me By Your Name.
So simple that maybe you missed it but the popular soft drink is named Soda Cola. Made better for not rubbing it in the audience’s face (though it certainly rubs Cassius’s face). And along those lines, I am so embarrassed that it took me until the actual last reading of his name that “Cassius Green” = “Cash Is Green,” but there’s no WAY anyone else missed that.
And there was even more! Loved the costuming; psychedelic suits, bold ties, one-of-a-kind earrings. Extra flair like Mr. ____’s eyepatch seems a little try-hard when you focus on it, but who gives a shit? David Cross and Patton Oswalt were truly the best selections for white voice; I’ll follow Lily James into the dark after Baby Driver. So cool to see fellow NYU-er and inspired comedienne Kate Berlant show up (… Though now that I think about it, she vanishes halfway through, hm), along with cameos by Bay Area comics Kamau W. Bell and Nato Green. The Coup and tUnE-yArDs synthesize their boisterous joy for a soundtrack that had me swaying and tapping my toes every time a beat dropped. I’m going to be listening to “Level It Up” and “Hey Saturday Night” for the rest of the month, guaranteed. And let’s not forget, Patton starred in The Coup’s video for “The Magic Clap” back in 2012, which was, of course, from an album titled Sorry To Bother You.
Finally: I’ve spent some time lingering in Layover, the Oakland bar hosting several scenes. Just need to cap this on my cool, y’know?