Writer/director Boots Riley serves up an explosion of racial and social satire that’s sprawling, sporadically hilarious and often just too thematically ambitious for its own good. Lakeith Stanfield stars as Cassius “Cash” Green, a financially-strapped Oakland man who takes a telemarketing gig and discovers that he’s actually great at it—once he masters talking to his leads in a “white voice.” That’s only one of the buttons Riley pushes as he tackles predatory capitalism, voluntary indentured servitude, militarized police and a popular TV game show where you win money by letting someone beat the shit out of you. There are bursts of visual creativity everywhere you look—including a stop-motion segment that nods to the movie’s debt to Michel Gondry—and charismatic performances by Stanfield, Tessa Thompson and Armie Hammer as CEO of Cash’s employer. Riley simply has his eye on so many targets that many of them don’t have the opportunity to land, or manage the tonal shifts between amused and genuinely angry. But if you want a movie that swings its half-horse/half-man junk for all to see, this one’s for you.
Director: Boots Riley
Producer: Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Charles King, George Rush, Jonathan Duffy, Kelly Williams, Michael Chow, Michael Shen, Kim Roth, Poppy Hanks, Philipp Engelhorn, Caroline Kaplan and Gus Deardoff
Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Kate Berlant, Michael Sommers, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, Robert Longstreet, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Lily James, Forest Whitaker, Rosario Dawson and Shelley Mitchell