Sorry To Bother You


I hardly know how to talk about a movie like this.

It’s radical.

Ostensibly it’s about “telemarketing” but that’s like saying Toy Story is about single parenting. It’s really about racism and assimilation and wage slavery and identity – by way of telemarketing, at least to start.

Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is thrilled to get a shitty telemarketing job, working for commission. There’s almost no way to actually succeed doing this kind of work, but Cassius stumbles upon the secret, magic key: a white voice. A persuasive, approachable, overconfident voice, like Tobias Funke’s, perhaps. Using this voice, Cassius shoots straight to the top, rocketing past his buddies and even his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa MV5BMzNjZTZlZmYtODU0ZS00NzFkLTkyZGEtOTI5M2Q0YTZmNzg3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_Thompson) who are trying to organize a union that will help the little guys make a living wage too.

On top, Cassius is of course hypnotized by the wealth and privilege, but now that he’s rubbing elbows with “the man”, he’s finding it’s a little different than he’d imagined. “The man” is of course Armie Hammer, like you ever fucking doubted it. Hammer was literally born to be typecast as a slave owner – his great-grandfather was a legit oil tycoon and philanthropist, and the family is worth somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200M. So yeah, he’s got owning slaves in his blood, and we can all read it in his cheekbones. In Sorry To Bother You, he plays a CEO who is “saving the world” by enslaving all the poor people and making them thank him for it. Signing a contract, they agree to work wage-free for him forever in exchange for housing (which looks surprisingly like prison cells minus the bars but with double the roommates) and food.

And everything is just gently pushing you. Pushing your boundaries, almost imperceptibly. In the beginning, things are near normal but they escalate, asking us to accept just one more inch of absurdity. It is THE best kind of satire, uncompromising but plenty challenging.

First-time writer-director Boots Riley has made a film that is gutsy and experimental. It feels like this is a guy who isn’t sure he’ll ever get to do this again, so he’s not leaving a single idea on the table. He takes huge risks and when they pay off, hot damn. Sorry To Bother you zigs and zags in unexpected places but the super talented cast helps this thing stay grounded. Riley is full of piss and vinegar and a comic outrage that’s infection. This is bold stuff, exciting to watch, fearless, outrageous, and I want more. Not for the faint of heart.

26 thoughts on “Sorry To Bother You

    1. Jay Post author

      It was out on limited release and it slowly trickling into a few theatres…it’s only playing at one here, so I’m glad I caught it when I did!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Christopher

    I’ve been looking forward to your review.I walked out of this one completely stunned. And this is a great review because I know how tempting it is to talk about how completely bonkers it gets but Riley directs it so brilliantly I didn’t even realize how crazy things had gotten until the end. And that, frighteningly, was part of the point.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jay Post author

      Exactly! It’s like the frog getting boiled to death without jumping out of the pot.
      They’re so coy with the marketing too, which is smart.
      This played at SXSW and we couldn’t make it because it only screened once. Now we know why they were advertising it with so many twirly signs!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Christopher

        The first I read about it was a review that started with how much the reviewer couldn’t say and then turned into a lengthy profile of Boots Riley, who’s a fascinating character.


  2. Tom

    Yeah this movie blew my damn socks off.

    N*gga shit, n*gga shit, n*gga n*gga n*gga shit! Hahah! What the fuck is going on!!


  3. Kariyanine

    Great review. I liked it a lot. It is absurd and insane but somehow it all ties together with what it is saying.


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  5. msjadeli

    Just borrowed the DVD from the library and watched it. This thing is going to be a cult classic. I’m wondering if they will have Sorry to Bother You nights like they have Rocky Horror Picture Show Nights at theaters? This thing is off the hook!


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