Twists, turns, ups and downs… to say the least, “Sorry to Bother You” is a wild ride. This is not the movie you expect to watch after you see the trailer or even the first 30 minutes of the film, but that is not to say that it’s disappointing. In fact, this movie might be the most interesting, if not the most bizarre, that you have seen in a long time.
You may ponder over this film for weeks before you fully understand the main message that writer and director Boots Riley is trying to make, but honestly, that was probably his intention.
Most viewers, after watching the teaser, expect to be seeing a film that makes social commentary about a young African American man who must assimilate into a white person’s world and adopt quote-endquote white mannerisms in order to succeed in his new profession: telemarketing. But it’s definitely about more than that.
In a way, the film does comment on certain aspects of black culture, on modern life in an urban area for young, economically struggling Americans, on existential crises and on the desire to make an impact on the world. However, the plot becomes gradually more allegorical and less realistic, making it a little harder for viewers to fully grasp what the main point of the film really is.
The alternative reality depicted in the film is an uber-productive and maximum profit kind of world where many humans are subjected to working long and hard hours, comparable to slave labor. Riley seems to be making fun of the extremity of productivity levels in society today through an exaggerated version of the world that we live in.
Riley also portrays the complexity of people’s choices and career decisions through the main character, Cassius’, struggle to do what is morally right. He’s very successful at his job, but his job is selling the slave labor of humans. The film shows how Cassius gets caught between a life of comfort and what he feels is a sense of purpose, and what he knows deep down to be the “right” thing to do. Riley uses Cassius’ character to show how many life decisions are not clear-cut, making it easier to understand why certain people may get wrapped up in organizations or other situations that aren’t seen as honorable.
The characters in “Sorry to Bother You” are original, funny and powerful. Cassius’ girlfriend, Detroit, is an inspirational female character who is a feminist, an activist and a supportive partner for Cassius while also having dreams and aspirations of her own. Riley makes this strong female character fiercely independent and smart, which was a refreshing twist on a supporting female role.
The latter half of “Sorry to Bother You,” put quite simply, is weird. This at-first relatable film quickly becomes shocking and unexpected, which is not common in a lot of movies that make social commentary today. The way that Riley ends up making his statements about the negative effects of an uber-productive society are dramatic to a point where they are almost laugh-out-loud comical, yet jaw-droppingly frightening.
The ending of the film may shock you, anger you, or straight up horrify you. Although potentially confusing or strange for some, you have to give credit to Riley for his originality and creativity. There aren’t many allegories that will make you laugh, cry and scream as much as his will.