Sorry To Bother You
I have a lot of thoughts about this movie and I will do my best to convey them coherently. Sorry To Bother You has a lot of interesting and important things to say, but gets too weird for the sake of being weird to get the message across. The movie becomes a far too literal metaphor to be enjoyable or have any meaningful dialogue come from it. I was excited about the narrative we were sold at the beginning of the film, but about halfway through, I was looking at the clock and ready for it to be over. The couple next to me actually walked out. As we were standing in the hallway after, we overheard someone say, "About halfway through I looked over at her and said I do not like this." Of my group of six friends, one liked it. Take that as you will.
Set in an alternative Oakland, California, the hero of this film is Cassius Green... get it? Cash Green? He's having a hard time finding a job and in the middle of an existential crisis. He lives in his uncle's (Terry Crews) garage with his fiancée Detroit (Tessa Thompson), but the house is about to be foreclosed on unless they can quickly come up with a lot of money. Cassius finds himself at Regalview Telemarketing where they'll hire pretty much anyone who can read. As you can see from the trailer, the film quite literally drops Cassius into the environment of the person he's calling. I thought it was a clever way to portray the crazy world that is telemarketing (and that's where the cleverness ends). After failing to get past his opening line, an older colleague (Danny Glover) leans over and suggests using his white voice. This ends up being the key to unlock success setting Cassius on his way to the literal top (the top floor reserved for "power callers").
His friends at Regalview are fed up with the lack of pay and are organizing a union. They recruit Cassius to be a part of work stoppage, even though he's a bit reluctant due to his new found success. Instead of being punished for his involvement, he's promoted to power caller and has gained access to the exclusive gold elevator to the top floor. Once he arrives, he learns what the power callers sell- slave labor via the successful, yet controversial Worry Free company, among other fairly reprehensible products. In this alternate setting, people are turning to essentially what is a voluntary prison through Worry Free headed up by CEO Steve Lift (Armie Hammer). The deal is you will be given shelter and food for the low, low price of your wageless labor.
As Cassius continues to thrive making multi-million dollar deals with foreign companies slashing their production costs by utilizing Worry Free's labor, his personal life falters. He's at odds with his fiancée and friends as they're still fighting the good fight without him (and against him). His success grabs the attention of Steve Lift, who makes him an absolutely ludicrous offer. And this is where they lost me.
The film was actually fairly humorous in the first half, but got far too weird for no real reason. It is not as clever as the critics would like you to think it is. I found myself waiting for the pay off which took far too long to get to, and when we finally arrived, was so off putting that I no longer cared what it had to say. There were real opportunities to make bold statements about economic inequality, race, corruption in power, and mass media but they got lost in the complete absurdity of where this story takes you.
Sorry To Bother You is one of the more appropriately titled movies as I was extremely bothered by it, and not for the reasons I wanted to be.
Brit's pro tip: The trailers before the film were stellar. I'd say hold out for Blindspotting and Monsters and Men coming soon and skip this one.