Movie Review: Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Title: Sorry to Bother You
Release Date:  July 6, 2018
Director: Boots Riley
Production Company: Significant Productions | MNM Creative | MACRO | Cinereach | The Space Program | Annapurna Pictures

Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is a young man, down on his luck, and going through an existential crisis when he starts a job at a telemarketing company.  He learns that to make successful sales he has to use a “white voice” (ironically, his managers always talk in “Black voice” when pumping up the employees in meetings).  Soon he’s promoted to the Power Caller department where he makes a fortune selling unethical products and services at the same time his friends and coworkers from the lower floors are organizing a strike. Underlying everything is the growth of a new company called WorryFree that provides cheap labor by signing people to lifetime contracts and housing them in factories (which opponents call slave labor).

The movie has a stellar cast supporting Stanfield. Tessa Thompson plays his girlfriend Detroit, who is a performance artist and underground activist. Steven Yuen is a labor organizer named Squeeze. And Omari Hardwick plays the mysterious Mr. _____, Cash’s Power Caller manager.  Danny Glover and Forest Whitaker also appear in small roles, and Rosario Dawson performs a voice.

I was not prepared for this movie.  I went in expecting a satirical comedy more than anything else but ended up feeling more disturbed than anything else.  Granted, this movie is supposed to be disturbing, but I wasn’t expecting creepiness approaching Get Out levels.  And that was before the scenes of full-on body horror!  I also felt the movie had too many targets.  While the satire of the corporate world and capitalist exploitation works, I felt the gags about online memes, reality tv, and performance art fell flat.  Still this is a good first film for Boots Riley and I look forward to seeing what he’ll put out next.  Oh and the music by Riley’s band The Coup and tUnE-yArDs is perfect for this movie.

Rating: ***

4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Sorry to Bother You (2018)

  1. You know I really liked Stanfield in this one, maybe because he played clueless and vulnerable and approachable. I thought he was wrong for the role he played in The Photograph, and I won’t see Judas and… because I don’t like his ferret face! Sorry. I thought this movie went really strange also, like a bad acid trip (speaking hypothetically only!) The performance art extreme act was a little overboard. I liked how all of the bad business practices were upstairs and that special elevator. Omari Hardwick was great in his role, I thought, and I see him as a rising star. I’m also waiting to see what Boots comes up with next. Despite the strange dimension it went to I thought Armie Hammer was perfect for the role he was in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apparently Lakeith Stanfield appeared in 4 other movies I’ve watched – Knives Out, Get Out, Selma, and Dope – but I can’t remember him in any of them. It appears they were smaller roles though. Anyhow, I liked him in Sorry to Bother You.

      Liked by 1 person

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