Plot: Cassius (Lakeith Stanfield) lives in a garage and has a rundown car, but he dreams of a better life and one with less financial struggles, though he also knows there can be price for that kind of success. He takes a job as a telemarketer, but runs into one bad call after another, until one of his coworkers offers some sage advice. He tells Cassius to find his “white voice” and not just change how his voice sounds, but really channel that white persona, then his calls will succeed. As it turns out, the advice works and soon, Cassius is not only climbing the ladder at the call center, but he is promoted to the upstairs office, where big game clients are offered up. Once he is inside the elite ranks however, he begins to notice a lot of shadiness and while his pockets are being lined, he knows he is crossing some lines he never intended to. As he goes deeper down the rabbit hole, what will Cassius uncover about the world around him and can he make a difference, even as just one person?
Entertainment Value: I’d rank Sorry to Bother You as a masterpiece, a surreal, brilliant movie that feels like a kinetic work of art, steeped in creative visuals and sharp social critiques. The narrative is fluid here, so it weaves between threads and the movie has an otherworldly texture, since the world within the movie feels familiar, yet so strange at the same time. This is especially true as the film progresses and descends deeper into a surreal nightmare of sorts, but even as its most absurd, Sorry to Bother You always comes across as authentic. In other words, this doesn’t feel like weirdness for the sake of being weird, just a dialed up take on real issues. This includes some scenes that are flat out mind melting a times, but it all feels like a natural, just tuned up element in the film’s bizarre atmosphere. The social satire isn’t subtle in the least, but is often well integrated into the narrative, so heavy handed perhaps, but effective and an inherent part of the artistic vision. The tone is wild and over the top, the visuals are mesmerizing, and the story grabs you from the start, then rolls into a relentless frenzy until it caps off with an unforgettable finale. I had immense fun with Sorry to Bother You and while it can be taken just on its remarkable artistic merits, it also has real soul and takes aim at some social concerns. If you appreciate offbeat, creative cinema and non traditional art, you shouldn’t miss this one.
This kind of material needs a cast that can find the right wavelength, which can’t be easy, given the wild, offbeat nature of this movie. But this cast nails it and across the board, performs at a high level and everyone seems to in tune with the material, down to the smallest of roles. Lakeith Stanfield has the lead role in Sorry to Bother You, but he has a capable ensemble of supporting talent to back him up, as well as to banter with and bounce off of. He is kind of our grounded center in this crazed world, able to convey the desperate push for success, the toll taken by his actions, and often, sheer disbelief of what is going on around him. In the scenes where he is unleashed at full speed, he more than delivers on that front, but he also handles the more laid back aspects. Armie Hammer has a prominent, but smaller role that comes into play late in the movie, but it is a wildly memorable performance. Not to be left out is Tessa Thompson, who provides another great performance and she goes for broke at times, giving us some jaw dropping moments. The cast also includes Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Terry Crews, and Omari Hardwick, while Boots Riley directs with immense skill.