EVERY so often a film comes along that you don’t know quite what to do with, one that defies easy classification and is packed to the brim with sheer oddness. Sorry To Bother You is one such film and then some.

Rapper-turned-writer-director Boots Riley’s debut feature centres on a young black man named Cassius AKA Cash (Lakeith Stanfield), living in an alternate version of present-day Oakland, California. It’s a world adorned with ads for a nefarious company named WorryFree which practically trades in human slavery and is plagued by the protests and vandalism of radical group “The Left Eye”.

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In order to earn some much-needed money and in a naïve attempt to seem more interesting to his performance artist/activist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson), Cash gets a job as a telemarketer at the lower-level of a company named RegalView, where he is told by seasoned colleague Langston (Danny Glover) to use his “white voice” to get ahead.

Stick to the script, he is repeatedly told from up on high, and if he’s successful he could reach the company’s higher floors where the real money is made. Will he succumb to the heady heights of greed and success or will he stick by his friends by sticking it to the man?

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From the get-go everything about this film feels at once familiar yet weirdly alien – as if a trippy filter has been applied to the world and its eclectic inhabitants. It’s got the scrappy, all-or-nothing bravura of a first-time filmmaker who has real experience in other areas (Riley’s rap and hip-hop background bleeds through into the personality of every scene) proving himself as a force to be reckoned with.

It’s a rowdy and disruptive, exciting and challenging concoction that takes a big bite (almost too big) out of a lot of things. Packed with dynamic visual metaphors and sly dialogue, it chomps together scathing social commentary on everything from racial inequality and the warping of the so-called American dream to corporate greed and nation-wide short attention spans. It’s an elongated oddball farce with sci-fi-tinged flights of fancy that are as bewildering as they are weirdly entertaining. Stanfield is the warm, inviting anchor throughout its madness.

It doesn’t have the consistency to make the entire experience work – the final third takes the absurdism to trying new heights in a way that loses grip of the thematic, shrewdly satirical heavy-lifting that powers its earlier scenes. But its swagger and sheer brazen weirdness is to be admired, commended and revelled in because we just don’t get films like this very often.