Sorry to Bother You is a masterpiece

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU — Annapurna Pictures release — Acquired via EPK.TV
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU — Annapurna Pictures release — Acquired via EPK.TV /

If you’re on the fence about seeing Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, I’m here to tell you why you should. And also to make sure you’re prepared for what you’re going to see.

If you’ve seen the previews for Sorry to Bother You, you’ve gathered that it is a wild movie. You may have been preparing to see it just to get a laugh as was the case for me. The previews also make it appear as though the movie has a message that centers around race and that is likely to affect your desire to see the film as well. Sorry to Bother You does live up to, if not exceeds, expectations as a wild and hilarious comedy. However, though there is a political message, it is not one that is centered around race.

Not knowing much about Boots Riley going into the film, I was pleasantly surprised by the anti-capitalist message of the film. Sorry to Bother You takes direct shots at the corporate power structure, the way the top 1% view the average citizen, and how blind the average citizen seems to be to these issues. Armie Hammer’s character, Steve Lift, is basically Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos but we’ll get into that more later. With a strong political message and the over the top comedy and visuals, Riley manages to push the limits on every aspect of this film without going over.

*Light spoilers ahead*

The comedy

The very first scene sets the tone. Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is in an interview and he’s desperate for a job. You can tell he’s serious about the job but he’s holding an “Employee of the Month” plaque which is funny on its own before what’s revealed a few moments later. This scene is a comedic moment that also sends a message about the employment world.  Cassius is seriously in need of a job and the methods he’s chosen to secure the job are hilarious. The reaction of the hiring manager is also both serious and comedic. This type of comedy continues throughout the film where the characters are dealing with serious situations in ways that just so happen to be comedic.

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There is outlandish comedy as well. I don’t want to give away too much but throughout the film they show a few different shots of the most popular television show. It’s a show where people go on to get beaten up for absolutely no reason at all. While there is a message there, this is still taking it a bit far and this is what makes it funny. Though Cassius says he doesn’t understand why people watch, it’s also not disregarded as being as absurd as it is. The best way I can describe it is by saying that the comedy can be outlandish while still being grounded in reality. A complete exaggeration of something very real.

I also believe the comedy is woven into the movie to keep the political elements of the film from hitting too hard.

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU — Annapurna Pictures release — Acquired via EPK.TV
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU — Annapurna Pictures release — Acquired via EPK.TV /

The social commentary

The tone is set here immediately as well. Going back to that first scene, Cassius is getting a job as a telemarketer. It’s a job that is completely commission based and pretty much anyone can do it but Cassius goes all out to get it. This scene took me back to my time searching for a job after college. You start out looking for jobs in your field but once you realize that isn’t happening you have to take what you can find. Commission-based jobs and telemarketing jobs are always available because they have high turnover rates. Also, once Cassius is settled in, you see that there are people at all stages of life working in this call center which is also our reality and for various reasons.

Then there’s Worry Free. Worry Free is a fictional company that is essentially taking over everything. People are throwing away their lives to work for Worry Free because it guarantees you a place to stay and food though you sacrifice everything else. Cassius’ uncle Sergio (Terry Crews) considers going to work for them as he falls behind on his bills and is running out of options to keep himself afloat. With the recent stories concerning working conditions at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and Jeff Bezos’ seemingly not understanding why these are problems, it was hard to not see Worry Free as Amazon. Wal-Mart would be another example. These mega corporations do everything in one place and have a ton of job openings. However, they don’t take care of their employees’ basic needs. Riley starts with the hyperbolic description of this phenomenon then adds an exaggerated warning as to where we could end up. If there is a place where the film went too far with its message, this would be it.

There is so much more but I could probably do an entire article on the social commentary alone. With that said, you don’t have to understand the social commentary to enjoy the film. Without the realization of what’s being portrayed, this is still a fun movie. It’s a story of a guy who is struggling, has some success, then realizes the way it has affected his life and has a choice to make. It’s a common tale but told in the most uncommon of ways. If you do get the social message, it takes the movie to that next level that makes it special, and important.

Sorry To Bother You
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU — Annapurna Pictures release — Acquired via EPK.TV /

The visuals

I honestly don’t even know what to say about the visuals and the cinematography in Sorry to Bother You. You won’t be able to look away, though there are some scenes where you’re going to want to. It’s big, it’s colorful, and it’s ambitious. The scenes you see in the trailer where Cassius is on the phone with customers and it drops him into their homes is just a taste. Everything on the screen has its place and is there to send a message.

Much like the comedy, the visuals are all exaggerated within the realm of acceptability as well. It is a mark of genius how well Boots toes that line.

Overall, Sorry to Bother You is a movie that I don’t think you can fully appreciate in one viewing. There is so much detail that you’re guaranteed to miss something on the first watch. The one caveat I’ll add for perspective viewers is that there is some unexpected nudity and there is some stuff at the end that may take one of the messages too far visually. One review I saw loved the movie up until this point near the end. I too thought that it became a bit much near the end due to this one aspect but I understood the meaning behind it and it wasn’t enough to take away from everything else in the film. I think Sorry to Bother You is a must-see for anyone with an open mind creatively and anyone with even the slightest interest in our economy.

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Sorry to Bother You is currently available nationwide and word of mouth is spreading so get your tickets now.