Year:  2023

Director:  Boots Riley

Release:  June 23, 2023

Distributor: Prime Video

Running time: 30 minutes x 7 episodes

Worth: $15.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Jharrel Jerome, Olivia Washington, Mike Epps, Kara Young, Walton Goggins

… chaotic, funny, and smart as hell.

Cootie (Jharrel Jerome), a 19-year-old Oakland kid, has lived his entire life sheltered under the ever-watchful care of his protective family, Aunt Lafrancine (Carmen Ejogo) and Uncle Martisse (Mike Epps). Cootie finds himself unable to resist the lure of the world beyond his four walls despite constant warnings of the prejudice and intolerance in today’s society, especially for a Black man in America, or in Cootie’s remarkable case, a 13-foot-tall Black man in America.

Creator/director Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You) opens the series with newborn Cootie, dropped helpless into this bright new world, a dizzying mesh of comic book and cartoon. Confused and overwhelmed, he’s in much the same position as the viewer: confronted with the anarchy of advanced tech blended with a special brand of magic, 6-inch-tall freedom fighters and an AI who sounds disturbingly like Bill Cosby. And like Cootie, we either roll with it or we’ll be left behind.

Essentially, it’s the story of teen rebellion, only when this particular teen rebels, it involves publicly bench-pressing cars, stumbling unwittingly into bar brawls, and eating junk food that was always outlawed under his father’s roof. Okay, so there might be one or two examples of classic kid stuff amongst the feats of strength, but after nearly two decades of watching his neighbours through a spyglass in the hedge, a regular teen experience is all Cootie is looking for. His only introduction to the outside world so far have been existentially crippling cartoons and seeing the televised exploits of The Hero (Walton Goggins, delivering the most iconic “dance” sequence since Matt Smith in Morbius) — a comic-book writer, billionaire, and nefarious version of a superhero with his own jetpack and a deeply limited understanding of the law.

A visually ambitious anti-capitalist fairy story, I’m a Virgo is chaotic, funny, and smart as hell. Unafraid to confront important truths, including the cycle of poverty and violence in Oakland, Boots Riley remains as uncompromising in his politics as he was with Sorry to Bother You, and equally as imaginative and groundbreaking in his presentation. An original take on the (super)hero’s journey, the tale gets messy in parts and favours absurdity over cohesion, but as the plot unfolds, Cootie’s own sweet, uncorrupted point of view keeps us grounded, deftly navigating the space between highly stylized exaggeration, and relatable coming-of-age.