SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (director/writer: Boots Riley; cinematographer: Doug Emmett; editor: Terel Gibson; music: Tune-Yards; cast: Lakeith Stanfield (Cassius Green), Tessa Thompson (Detroit), Danny Glover (Langston), Armie Hammer (Steve Lift), Terry Crews (Sergio Green), Steven Yeun (Squeeze), Michael X. Sommers (Johnny), Omari Hardwick (Mr. Blank), Jermaine Fowler (Salvador), David Cross (dubbed white voice for Cassius), Rosario Dawson (Elevator Voice), Patton Oswalt (White Voice), Lily James (British White Voice for Detroit); Runtime: 111 ; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Nina Yang Bongiovi, George M. Rush, Forest Whitaker, Charles D. King; Annapurna Pictures; 2018)

Goes from promising to less promising, as things are no longer funny as it departs the real world for a creepy unreal sci-fi one.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A snappy satirical corporate confrontational comedy with racial and political overtones, that’s forcefully directed and written by Oakland-based rapper Boots Riley, front-man of the Coup, in his feature film debut. It goes from promising to less promising, as things are no longer funny as it departs the real world for a creepy unreal sci-fi one.It tells the story of the black Oakland resident, Cassius (Lakeith Stanfield), who lives with his black girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), an unemployed activist and artist, in his uncle’s garage. Cassius, despite a phony resume, finds a poor paying job as a telemarketer for the sleazy company Regalview, where he earns little money until his black mentor Langston (Danny Glover), in the next cubicle, tells him to make calls in a “white voice.” The white voice is dubbed by David Cross. Detroit also gets hired by the same outfit, and the now prosperous couple move into fancy new digs. The ‘white voice’ trick is so successful, it moves Cassius up the corporate ladder to the executive position of “power caller.” His devious approach to the job resonates with the brass, who urge all their black sales people to use a “white voice.” When Squeeze (Steven Yeun), another telemarketer, tries to form a union to improve working conditions, Cassius and Detroit can’t sell out their brothers and cross a picket line and find work at the WorryFree factory, whose motto is Worry Free Living. On this job, everyone must sign lifetime servitude contracts which provides them with on-site barrack housing/food – unfortunately it’s an ugly concept for a ‘slavery’ system. The couple get an invite to a house party/orgy given by their moronic, bigoted, coke-sniffing Clearview CEO (Armie Hammer). By accident, Cassius discovers in the house that his perverse and greedy boss has nefarious plans for creating an evil system. They then join a leftist activist group called Left Eye to expose and fight them. Despite its crudeness, it delivers some hits against the white man and his capitalist system. But it also leaves you confused by its absurd plot twist and ultimately bored by its silliness. Yet for me, any film that attacks telemarketers has at least something going for it.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”