Sundance Review: SORRY TO BOTHER YOU Is Weird, Hilarious & Brilliant

Giant horse-man dong coming at you.

If you’re going to make an absurd satire about the horrors of white corporate America, why hold back? Sorry to Bother You doesn’t know either, and as a result I’ll be shocked if it’s not one of the best comedies of the year.

The great Lakeith Stanfield stars as Cash, a hapless youngster living with his artist girlfriend Detroit (the equally great Tessa Thompson) in his uncle’s (holy shit, Terry Crews!) garage. Crash gets a telemarketing job and after some advice from Danny Glover (seriously, this movie is amazing), discovers great success by adopting a “white” voice (would it surprise you at this point to learn the white voice is provided by David Cross?) when speaking to customers.

I imagine most descriptions for the film stop there, which makes sense because it’s interesting and would be plot enough for most films. But that’s just the beginning of Sorry to Bother You’s pointed insanity. The film is a comedy tour de force. Virtually every scene contains something creative and unique and hilarious, even into the third act when most absurdist comedies get weighed down by plot. At the same time, the film really does have crucial things to say and manages to make us care about the character relationships, regardless of how far from reality it charges. 

And it charges pretty far. From Tessa Thompson poorly twirling a sign that reads “sign”, to Tessa Thompson’s amazing earrings, to Tessa Thompson’s bizarre art show, Sorry to Bother You takes place in a greatly exaggerated version of our reality to help make its points. By the time we get to a slave army of horse-men, you’re more or less acclimated to its world. 

Even with all the amazing actors involved (Christ, I haven’t even mentioned how perfect Armie Hammer is in this), the real star of Sorry to Bother You is writer and director Boots Riley. I can hardly fathom a first-time director coming out with something this smart, inventive and confident, making it look easy to achieve a Mike Judge-level satire about race and capitalism right off the bat like this. Boots Riley is definitely a new director to keep an eye on.

There is just so much movie here. For some it may be too much. But in the same secretly sarcastic way most telemarketers say the phrase, the title of this one is particularly apt.