When I started watching Sorry to Bother You, I thought it was going to be like most comedies I’ve seen. Oh, how I was wrong.
Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Danny Glover, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Terry Crews, and Armie Hammer, ‘Sorry to Bother You’ is the 2018 writing/directorial debut from American rapper Boots Riley.
Set in an alternate present-day version of Oakland, California, telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success, which propels him into a macabre world of material glory.
First of all, Sorry to Bother You is my favourite comedy of the year for several reasons (which I will get into as this review progresses). This is one of the craziest films I’ve seen in a long time, and it took me down a path of madness I didn’t expect at all. If you think that this is just going to be your average comedy, be prepared for something original and very different.
One of the biggest positives I have with the film is the writing from Boots Riley. Riley has written one of the smartest and funniest scripts of the year. Every character is unique and memorable, which makes for an entertaining comedy. None of the characters are similar and everyone is crazier and more bizarre than the last. Armie Hammer’s character, in particular, is one of the most insane characters I’ve ever seen! The dialogue is also fantastic. Every line of dialogue is delivered in a witty and snappy way, which suits the tone of the film.
The satire element of Sorry to Bother You is also brilliant. I won’t go into spoilers, but the WorryFree program that runs in the background throughout the film is a clever social commentary on modern-day, low wage labour. Like our world, this company is progressively looking for low-cost ways of producing products they can sell at high prices. In our world, it’s slowly becoming robots, and in this film, it’s something that will make you laugh while feeling very disturbed. The “white voice” aspect of the film is also brilliant. Riley executes this idea in a way that makes you laugh and think. Showing how you’re more likely to trust someone who speaks in a way where they know what they are talking about, while also being relaxed is hilarious. It’s extremely funny, yet it makes you think about our modern world. Easily some of the best satire in recent memory.
Since I was talking about the well-written characters, I should talk about the performances. Lakeith Stanfield has yet again proved why he is one of the best up-and-coming actors working today, with his amazing performance as Cassius Green. He is hilarious in this role as he gradually climbs the ranks of this bizarre world and his nuanced performance is one of the most memorable of 2018. I didn’t think he’d top his performance in the second season of Atlanta earlier this year, but after seeing Sorry to Bother You, I can say that I was wrong. I hope his performance here gets him more attention as I really think he needs to be in more film and television.
Tessa Thompson also proved why she is one of the best working actors today as Detroit. Thompson is great as this wannabe artist with earrings that get progressively bigger and funnier. Her performance is witty, bizarre and extremely memorable. Her “art performance” is one of the craziest things I’ve seen all year.
Speaking of memorable performances, Armie Hammer’s character is pure insanity in the form of a human. Hammer is hilarious as a CEO who loves to host orgies and is addicted to cocaine. I won’t spoil anything about where his story goes but all I can say is be prepared. Steven Yeun is also really good as Squeeze, one of the workers at RegalView (the telemarketing workplace). His character is more focused on the satirical look at unions. It was also great to see him in a semi-comedic role, which shows off more of his acting capabilities. His facial reactions during a verbal fight scene alone are hilarious.
Everyone else from Jermaine Fowler to Danny Glover are really good. I should also mention David Cross, Patton Oswalt and Lily James, who are the “white voices” in the film. They are hilarious in these extremely entertaining roles.
Another positive I have is the amazing soundtrack from hip-hop band, The Coup. Their work here has resulted in one of the best film soundtracks (and music albums) of the year. OYAHYTT and Anita’s Basement Tapes are two of the standout tracks from the soundtrack. OYAHYTT is an extremely entertaining track that will definitely get stuck in your head long after the end credits roll.
As mentioned before, the world portrayed in Sorry to Bother You is one of the funniest and scariest I’ve ever seen. It’s a world where the most popular TV program is a show that literally involves people getting the s### kicked out of them. Everything else from the slave labour that is WorryFree, to some of the other things that pop up later in the film, this is a clever world that is a very close depiction of some of the main issues within our world.
Overall, Sorry to Bother You is a brilliant political satire that explores some of the biggest problems in our modern-day lives. Boots Riley has crafted one of the smartest comedies in years that is filled with fantastic performances, solid direction and some of the funniest writing of 2018. If you’re a fan of dark comedies and something very original, then you should definitely check out Sorry to Bother You!