Quote from Sorry to Bother You by Steve Lift: “Cash, I’m gonna make you a proposal. I can see that you’d wanna say no, but I wouldn’t do that before you see what I’m offering you.”
I waffled between reviewing this movie as I did with The Killing of a Sacred Deer. I never did write one for that movie because there wasn’t enough in it for me to like, and the character of Steven Murphy did something too extreme given his setup near the end that it completely turned me off. Because Sorry to Bother You kept coming back to me long after I started writing the initial review and deleting it, here I go again. I watched it in December 2018. With that said, there were some redeeming qualities found spattered throughout it. It dove into many issues affecting most of us today: disproportionate economic classes, workers’ rights ad powers, racial conduct and appearance, and corporate greed and capitalism. This comedy is a gut punch because the choices made means you are either for something greedy and against another, which is mainly your principles. There is rarely a middle place you can stay because people will want you to pick a side these days. How far will a person go to have the best and fastest no matter what the cost? This movie is about what is right and wrong, and how the line can be blurred in some cases.
Sorry to Bother You is written and directed by Boots Riley. It is produced by Significant Productions, MNM Creative, MACRO, Cinereach, and The Space Program, and is distributed by Annapurna Pictures. It’s running time is 1 hour and 51 minutes with a MPAA rating of R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use. The main cast of this comedy/fantasy drenched in satire is Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius “Cash” Green (David Cross as his white voice), Tessa Thompson as Detroit (Lily James as her white voice), Jermaine Fowler as Salvador, Terry Crews as Sergio Green, Danny Glover as Langston (Steve Buscemi as his white voice), Steven Yeun as Squeeze, Armie Hammer as Steve Lift, Kate Berlant as Diana DeBauchery, Michael X. Sommers as Johnny, Robert Longstreet as Anderson, Forest Whitaker as Demarius, and Rosario Dawson as Voice in Elevator. This movie is about a young man finding his way in a telemarketing job where greed, power, and influence can be the starting or stopping point to living a better life.
The movie begins with Cassius Green living in his uncle’s garage with little privacy. This doesn’t sit well with his girlfriend, Detroit, which gives him the needed kick in the butt to get a job and be responsible. Enter RegalView, a call center, that gives Cash a chance to make some money he desperately needs. It is here he meets others including an old-timer, Langston, who has two voices. His “white voice” is used while speaking to customers while his regular voice is used for everyone else. By adopting this technique, Cash becomes an asset to the company. While out for drinks with his co-workers, he learns about WorryFree which is a company that Left Eye is protesting against due to its labor practices. Squeeze and others protest against the connection between RegalView and WorryFree, but when Cash is promoted to Power Caller his loyalties are tested. Now that he is financially secure, he meets and attends a party hosted by WorryFree’s CEO, Steve Lift which leaves him a confused by the end. Not sure what he just saw, Cash finds Detroit and tells her what he witnessed. It all seems like a bad dream, but parts of it is very real, and now he has to make the decision be ridiculed in order to be taken seriously. By the end, Cash decides to protest again, but this time with much bigger and stronger protesters against RegalView and WorryFree.
Initially when the credits rolled, I thought what the hell did I just see? I had to give it some time to digest it fully. The story was good, but because there were parts that were semi flushed out in the writing stage, it was lacking in those areas. One example was the WorryFree party that Cash was invited. I understand it served as a platform for the drug and alcohol scene, but the rap sequence Cash miserably failed was not necessary. The racially charged language is beside the point although some could see it being a major issue, but overall it didn’t serve a purpose. It seemed like filler and made an awkward situation even more awkward for the viewer. If the CEO was trying to destabilize Cash’s mental state, there are other ways to do that. If Cash felt self-conscious being in the limelight, there are other ways to do that too. “Kill your darlings” comes to mind. However, I did find the concept of the “white voice” unique as it references the utilization of telemarketing tricks. While not professional by any means, I’m sure it’s a reality for some and hints at other debates about language usage. I will say some of the characters needed a little more depth such as Detroit although a more pressing issue for me was her having a little more compassion. She came off as a pretty unlikable character, but maybe this was what was intended. I also wish there had been a little more with the bathroom stall discoveries. I think it could have been expanded before getting to point B. My initial review has changed because it was a knee jerk reaction. With time passing, I do see some value in it, but not enough to give it high accolades.
I would recommend Sorry to Bother You for its freshness in a sea of comic and remake movies. It satirizes on adult concepts so it’s not for children. I like to think of myself as open-minded to most any kind of language, but I warn you the swearing and racially charged language is rampant. There were some funny parts in it, mainly during the telemarketing scenes, and would have liked to have seen more of this instead of the other kind of humor. I understand the poking fun at certain things, but some of it fell flat. While I nod my head to the concept and some of the execution, the non-working areas were quite noticeable.
I rate Sorry to Bother You at GOOD at 75%