Sorry to Bother You (2018)



Critic Consensus: Fearlessly ambitious, scathingly funny, and thoroughly original, Sorry to Bother You loudly heralds the arrival of a fresh filmmaking talent in writer-director Boots Riley.

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In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, black telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success, which propels him into a macabre universe of "powercalling" that leads to material glory. But the upswing in Cassius' career raises serious red flags with his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson), a performance artist and minimum-wage striver who's secretly part of a Banksy-style activist collective. As his friends and co-workers organize in protest of corporate oppression, Cassius falls under the spell of his company's cocaine-snorting CEO Steve Lift (Armie Hammer), who offers him a salary beyond his wildest dreams.


LaKeith Stanfield
as Cassius Green
Armie Hammer
as Steve Lift
Terry Crews
as Sergio Green
Steven Yeun
as Squeeze
Omari Hardwick
as Mr. Blank
Danny Glover
as Langston
Patton Oswalt
as White Mr. Blank
David Cross
as White Cassius Green
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News & Interviews for Sorry to Bother You

Critic Reviews for Sorry to Bother You

All Critics (160) | Top Critics (44)

It should throw the viewer for a loop, because it's a reflection of the insane times we live in.

July 20, 2018 | Full Review…

Sorry to Bother You ponders the danger of trying to assimilate into the white world, but at heart it's a multiracial, proletarian call to arms.

July 20, 2018 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Telemarketers as targets from which satire flows eternal were spigotted about the same time as mall cops, and that's not all this jammed-scattergun approach to comedy has in common with the terminally dopey Paul Blart.

July 13, 2018 | Rating: 0/5 | Full Review…

It's a provocative, serious, ridiculous, screwy concoction about whiteface, cultural code-switching, African-American identities and twisted new forms of wage slavery, beyond previously known ethical limits.

July 13, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

"Sorry to Bother You" is an uncompromising and timely film of unapologetic brilliance.

July 13, 2018 | Full Review…

Sorry to Bother You, the feature debut of writer-director Boots Riley, and the no-contest wildest comedy of the season, will keep your mind busy for weeks.

July 13, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Sorry to Bother You

THAT KITCHEN SINKING FEELING - My Review of SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (3 Stars) In 1970, Melvin Van Peebles directed a daring comedy called WATERMELON MAN in which a white protagonist wakes up black one day and experiences the world through fresh eyes. Fast forward to 2018 and I couldn't help but think about that film as I watched the auspicious yet flawed debut of Boots Riley's much more surreal SORRY TO BOTHER YOU. Lakeith Stanfield (GET OUT) plays Cassius Green, a jobless man in Oakland who lives in his relative's garage with his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson of DEAR WHITE PEOPLE). With mounting debt, he hilariously nabs a job at a telemarketing company, but money doesn't pour in when the people he calls hear a black voice. These sequences have a real charge as Cassius literally crashes in on the people he calls. One fortuitous day, his cubicle mate, Langston (Danny Glover) offers him the tip to boost his sales by speaking in a white voice. It would be funny if it were not true, and yet it's impossible not to laugh when David Cross' voice comes out of Cassius' mouth. Faster than you can say HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, Cassius ascends the corporate ladder, well on his way to achieving a mysterious elite status. I loved the first act of this film and recognized that going off the rails felt like a fait accompli, but at a certain point, I grew tired of its surreal qualities. While a highly original satire, things get overstuffed and manic, much like latter day John Waters films such as A DIRTY SHAME. Sometimes you just want the hot water instead of the entire kitchen sink. Still, this is a film full of surprises, none of them spoiled here in any detail. Armie Hammer does a knockout job as a Corporate Leader/Monster, all bright smiles and evil intentions. Plus, it's fun seeing him snorting a huge line of coke (or something else perhaps) the likes of which haven't been seen since SCARFACE. Stanfield also does a tremendous job of keeping his character grounded, vulnerable and sweet despite the increasingly crazy tone of the story. Same goes for Thompson, who just can't help being one of my favorite new stars. Throughout, I kept thinking what this film would have been like had Riley chosen to keep things grounded in reality. It may not have been as visually fun as this, thanks to cinematographer Doug Emmett's vibrant work here. He typically has kept his work simple and earthy (ALEX OF VENICE and THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN), so it's nice to see a talented person stretch themselves so well. But, the potency of the satire wore thin as things escalated to such frenetic levels. It reminded me a little of SOYLENT GREEN, although that film stayed as real as it could for as long as possible. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU commits to its nuttiness, for better or for worse. I'd say calm down Boots Riley, as I'd love to experience something a little more calm from this man full of anti-capitalist ideas, rage, hope, and yes, heart.

Glenn Gaylord
Glenn Gaylord

Super Reviewer

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