Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson appear in Sorry to Bother You by Boots Riley, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Doug Emmett.
Boots Riley’s Sorry To Bother You, one of the most buzzed about films at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, is one of the best feature debuts during the fest.
The star-studded cast of Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, Omari Hardwick, Jermaine Fowler, and Danny Glover was one of the few films that showcased diversity with POC in leading roles. Much in the same veinas last year’s hit film, Get Out, Sorry To Bother You is a crazy satire with a lot of social commentary. Unlike the former, this film is one that plays more to the comedy side rather than go for thrills.
Taking place in present-day Oakland in a different timeline, Cassius Green (Stanfield) lives in the garage of his uncle, Sergio (Crews), and struggles to pay the rent while as a telemarketer for a local firm. He’s struggling with his phone calls.
The way that the calls are displayed on camera is very hysterical with Green’s desk suddenly appearing opposite whoever he’s calling. He’s not having much success until Langston (Glover) convinces him to use his white voice, as in “Will Smith white”–voiced in the film by comedian David Cross. As Cassius becomes a power caller, he soon earns a promotion around the same time that his fellow telemarketers, led by Squeeze (Yeun), decide to put their phones down and go on strike as they compare their contracts to slavery.
His decision to accept the promotion causes a stir with his colleagues and his girlfriend, Detroit (Thompson). A gallery artist by trade, Detroit is also a part of Left Eye, a collective that also tends to be on the radical side in their protest against WorryFree. Detroit is “morally emaciated” when it comes to selling slave labor.
It’s shortly after moving up to the power caller suite, where he must use his white voice at all times, in which Cassius learns that WorryFree, led by CEO Steve Lift (Hammer) is the company’s biggest client. Lift is the epitome of the world’s worst CEO but Hammer plays the role with so much excellence. Lift believes that it’s people like Cassius who will “save the nation.” Lift has a plan and he has a role for Cassius in said plan, whether Cassius likes it or not. One thing leads to another with a lot of actions leading to consequences.
Riley’s script, as crazy as it may be, is sure to be a contender for original screenplay for all of its crazy ideas, including popular game show I Got The Shit Kicked Out Of Me. This film plays to the zaniness of what’s happening. The buzz leading up to Sundance was so great that the film premiered to a sold out house at the Park City Library Theater and the press and industry screening on Sunday morning was very hard to get into. It lived up to the hype.
There are some zany ideas in the film, most of which are better left untold so as to not ruin the viewing experience. Aided by its stellar cast and social commentary, Sorry To Bother You isn’t a film to miss.
A selection of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Sorry To Bother You competed in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.