Many directors are taking action in directing their first movies this year showing off that they have to offer, and The Coup’s lead vocalist Boots Riley takes charge with Sorry to Bother You. And this might be the one movie of 2018 that will make you think, “WTF?”
What’s the Story: Set in an alternate present-day version of Oakland, Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is a man looking for a job to pay the rent. When he starts working at a telemarketing company, he learns the power of using his “white voice” (David Cross) to be successful and become the man of the hour when he skills are used in the capitalist world.
Sorry to Bother You was one of the movies at Sundance that I’ve been hearing the most buzz about concern how weird it was for a comedy that actually sounded interesting. I tried my hardest to stay away from the trailers, but there was no way of escaping it, and I missed this in theaters since I didn’t have time to check it out of the two theaters it was playing near me. Now finally checking to see what most people have been talking about since the beginning of the year, it’s pretty easy to see how Sorry to Bother You will divide among people. Just think if Spike Lee made his own version of Office Space, and then snort a line of coke.
All of the performances weren’t an inkling on my end. Stanfield has always been an impressive actor this decade and he knows how to have fun with a story like this. The rest of the cast were able to provide some bonker moments, including Tessa Thompson (wearing some dope earrings), Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, etc.
But for my money, the script is disjointed and well-crafted all at once with its message about corporate greed and capitalism. You can clearly see that Riley has a ton of ideas throwing at us that would help the audience understand how the economy treats the people. But since I don’t care about them at the point, who knows what this is geared towards. It’s hard trying to grips what’s the big deal throughout Cash’s journey to the big leagues.
Getting calls from telemarketers are always the worst been they call at the worst time trying to sell you something that doesn’t seem essential to our personal use. At least Workaholics made telemarking fun and easygoing with the shenanigans the protagonist goes through on a daily basis. But Cash is in a situation where when he starts to become a big hit with the phones, maybe it’s not what’s expected when joining the big guns up top. It’s a way of providing something different and new to yourself, but losing your friends in the process. Plus, you never know if most companies are planning evil schemes the entire time.
But I was shocked by the fact that this wasn’t funny. Probably the only time where it was actually hilarious was the exchange between Cash and his friend Salvador (Jermaine Fowler), in which the tone of the argument is heated but through compliments. The rest of the humor really didn’t land for me, unfortunately. Even the “white voices” didn’t feel natural when the dubbing is hit or miss.
Halfway through though, it becomes some kind of acid trip that felt strange, a little concerning, and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Props to Riley for providing some originality and having a plot that’s unpredictable, but it didn’t feel right for what the story was setting two acts ago.
Truth be told, I’m in the minority with Sorry to Bother You when it’s not that good. And this is a first feature film, so it isn’t terrible since this turned out to be a story that’s probably hasn’t been done before. Maybe this might make me appreciate it later on, but I thought Sorry to Bother You should’ve been way more entertaining based on the good word of mouth. While Boots Riley’s directorial and writing debut is wildly original and its satire on capitalism might be on point, Sorry to Bother You doesn’t unfold to potential when it isn’t funny and bizarre.