Sorry to Bother You

Dept. of Cloakroom Cognizance


There’s a moment, about two thirds of the way into Sorry to Bother You, when Lakeith Stanfield’s character goes to a party, stumbles into a toilet, and things go completely batshit crazy. At that point you realise that this movie is GOING PLACES.

Sorry to Bother You is a dark satirical comedy released in 2018, that was written and directed by Boots Riley, starring Lakeith Stanfield as Cassuis Green, Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews, Steven Yuen and Armie Hammer. The movie begins innocently enough; Cassius Green is a down on his luck man living with his fiancé Detroit (who sports the best earrings ever), played by the ever lovely Tessa Thompson, in his uncle’s garage.

Cassius goes to work as a telemarketer for RegalView and, at the urging of his co-worker (Danny Glover), he begins to use his “white voice” and starts to get real good at it.

There is a very inventive way the director goes about showing how these telemarketing phone calls go; Cassius is literally dropped into the house of the person he is calling and that telephone call is represented as a face to face conversation. The trailer really sells this point home, making it seem like an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind kind of moment. In the movie, however, the bulk of that is played off in a montage, as a way to show Cassius’ meteoric rise to the top of the telemarketing food chain. 

And then the kooky starts. Cassius gets promoted to “Power Caller” status. This means that he gets to go to work upstairs – taking the gold elevator with an overly friendly computer (voiced by none other than Rosario Dawson) and the overly complicated security passcode – to work on the big client, the manpower selling company called WorryFree.

It is here that he realises that WorryFree, despite its attractive offer of a lifetime contract and free food and lodging, is actually *technically* a slave owner. I say *technically* because WorryFree do pay their workers, but the pay is barely anything and the free food and lodging is actually gruel and something akin to a bad hostel in the back alley on the outskirts of some small Chinese city.

Because he’s such a mover, Cassius gets invited to a party by WorryFree’s CEO, played by Armie Hammer. Which brings us to the moment where Cassius stumbles into a toilet and the aforementioned batshit crazy begins. In that toilet, Cassius finds that WorryFree is experimenting with the creation of a new work force of equisapiens to revolutionise the labor market. Now, I won’t spoil what an equisapien is but, take it from me, it is weird.

Sorry to Bother You feels like a movie with too many messages for too many different problems facing America; from race relations (using his “white voice” to be better accepted and end up being successful in life), to the TV industry’s dumb reality show problem (the TV show “I Got The Shit Kicked Out Of Me” is basically an incredibly popular series in which people get the shit kicked out of them), to the slave labor treatment of employees (WorryFree).

That being said, Sorry to Bother You MOVES. It is fast paced and it hits all the different issues it wants to right on the nose. In that sense it is entertaining and you can’t really miss the point it’s trying to make. Then again, maybe one less cultural “issue” could have made this a better movie. It isn’t bad per se, just busy. And in all that busy-ness, I’m not sure if all of it lands. It is probably because of this that the movie’s ending feels short changed. It feels rushed. The issues get resolved, but maybe not to a degree that they could have been. Sorry to Bother You is a very good watch and, for a debut film, Boot Riley really hit this one, if not out of the park, then definitely close to the rafters.

Sorry To Bother You is now streaming on the HBO Go app.

Sorry To Bother You
112 minutes
Director: Boots Riley
Writer: Boots Riley
Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Armie Hammer, Steven Yuen, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, and Danny Glover

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

The title card from Amazing Stories.
Previous Story

Amazing Stories

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Featured Image.
Next Story

Animal Crossing: New Horizons, or Love in the Time of Corona

Latest from Movie Reviews

Luca Review

Pixar's latest fish out of water tale, Luca, arrives on Disney+ to