'Sorry to Bother You' (2018) Review

Updated on July 16, 2018
ChrisSawin profile image

Chris is a Houston Film Critics Society Member and a contributor at God Hates Geeks, Slickster Magazine, and What Culture.

One of the theatrical posters for, "Sorry to Bother You."
One of the theatrical posters for, "Sorry to Bother You."

Horsin' Around

Going in to Sorry to Bother You, the initial mindset was that the film looked like an African American version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The science fiction comedy follows Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield, Get Out, Death Note) as he struggles with finding a job. Cash lives in his uncle’s garage and has a beat up car that barely works. He lands a job at a telemarketing firm thanks to a recommendation from his friend Sal (Jermaine Fowler). He has trouble landing any sort of sale until he listens to a fellow co-worker named Langston (Danny Glover) and embraces the utilization of his, “white voice.” Cash soon rises through the ranks and becomes a power caller. He becomes financially successful in ways he couldn’t even imagine, but throws away what’s really important to him to achieve his success.

Sorry to Bother You is the debut film for writer/director Boots Riley who has made a name for himself as a rapper and lead vocalist for the hip hop band The Coup and the rap rock supergroup Street Sweeper Social Club. As a first time screenwriter, Riley is an intriguing storyteller. Sorry to Bother You draws a fine line between art, morals, and decency while juggling a unique kind of humor and a creative vision. The film touches on having more of an imagination and a more definitive existence when you’re financially lacking compared to when you’re suddenly extremely wealthy.

As Cash struggles as a telemarketer, his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) finds imaginative ways to stand out as a sign spinner while fueling her passion as a political artist with a series of handcrafted earrings and an African themed art gallery. There’s an undeniable Michel Gondry aspect to Sorry to Bother You. The way the film seems to throw Cash directly in front of the person he’s calling as a telemarketer as they eat, cry, use the toilet, or make love is unusual yet brilliantly memorable. Cash’s day to day life with something as simple as wiper duty on his car when it starts raining has a Be Kind Rewind feel to it that showcases how something simple can be wildly original.

The film dives head first into bizarre territory in its second half. It’s a concept that the trailers avoid and it feels like it comes out of nowhere when you’re watching the film. The jokes become more absurd with the longest pin number sequence in existence activating the elevator to Cash’s newfound power caller position and a battle of compliments between Cash and Sal that is so ridiculously great. The highlight may be when Cash is forced to rap in front of Steve Lift (Armie Hammer) and all of his guests. Lift’s intentions with selling slave labor and WorryFree Solutions are where things go bonkers.

Tessa Thompson and Lakeith Stanfield as Detroit and Cassius Green in, "Sorry to Bother You."
Tessa Thompson and Lakeith Stanfield as Detroit and Cassius Green in, "Sorry to Bother You."

It’s a funny concept in itself to have comedians David Cross and Patton Oswalt as the, “white voices” of Cash and his power caller supervisor Mr. _______ (Omari Hardwick, Kick-Ass), but to hear its execution is even more amusing. Cross and Oswalt are two of the whitest sounding guys out there, so they fit the roles perfectly. It’s strange that Sorry to Bother You targets Cash for selling out to success and sacrificing his friends for a financial boost yet totally glosses over how lame of a friend Squeeze (Steven Yuen, The Walking Dead) is. Squeeze is the one fighting for better wages and a union for his fellow co-workers and seems to be the one fighting for everyone else, but he also has a thing for Detroit and makes it well-known that he’s interested in her even before Cash screws up. Squeeze and Detroit do mess around, but Cash never finds out who Detroit was with. The love triangle is thrown aside for the weirdness in the final act, but the message Sorry to Bother You seems to convey is that friendship is a bond that shouldn’t be broken unless you’re both interested in the same girl.

The film seems to drag a bit after Cash stumbles onto Lift’s radical experiments. The progression of the film isn’t unreasonable at that point as it dives into Cash attempting to alert everyone through the media of his findings and realizing that selling out was wrong, but things seem to move a lot slower after Cash’s revelation. It could be a predictability factor since you seem to sense a happy ending coming, but the ending isn’t the issue as it is also unexpected and goes in an unseen direction. The story of the protagonist starting off poor, becoming rich, stepping on everyone including those close to him to reach the top, and then atoning for his behavior isn’t entirely new, so maybe that’s what feels familiar and tiresome.

Jermaine Fowler, Steven Yeun, and Lakeith Stanfield in, "Sorry to Bother You."
Jermaine Fowler, Steven Yeun, and Lakeith Stanfield in, "Sorry to Bother You."

From a first time screenwriter and director, Sorry to Bother You is an impressive and hilarious debut for Boots Riley. The film stumbles a bit at times, but is a unique experience overall. Riley is an extraordinary visionary with an offbeat comedy that will stand out and be memorable for years to come.

4 stars for Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Chris Sawin

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)