Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You Lakeith hor

Film Review by Kam Williams


Ambitious Telemarketer Joins the 1% in Sophisticated Social Satire

To describe Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfied) as struggling would be a major understatement. He and his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) are four months behind in their rent on an unfinished garage apartment in inner-city Oakland. The only reason they haven’t been evicted is that their landlord is Cash’s compassionate Uncle Sergio (Terry Crews). He’s been willing to wait to be paid, and even gave his nephew a car for free.

Cash has been unemployed, but it isn’t for a lack of trying. His luck changes when, despite being caught lying on his resume’ during a job interview, he’s hired anyway because the interviewer admired his ingenuity. The hope is that he’d bring the same ambition to his entry level gig as a telemarketer.

It’s impressed upon Cash during his training to “Stick to the Script,” if he wants to succeed. Plus, he gets a valuable tip from an African-American colleague (Danny Glover) in the neighboring cubicle, namely, “Use your white voice.”

Between dropping his black accent and following the company’s guidelines, Cash earns a coveted promotion to powercaller. Suddenly, he’s making enough money to pay off Uncle Sergio, buy a new car and move into a fancy flat in an upscale neighborhood.

Unfortunately, the raise proves to be a mixed blessing for Cash. First, it creates tension between him and the buddies he left behind on the floor of the crowded call center, since they’re still making minimum wage and are in the midst of organizing a union over the objections of management. And then his politically-active, performance artist girlfriend is disappointed when he crosses the picket line and dubs him a “scab.”

Thus unfolds Sorry to Bother You, a thought-provoking social satire marking the scriptwriting and directorial debut of Boots Riley. If the name rings a bell, that’s because he’s better known as the founder of the radical, hip hop group, The Coup, as well as one of the most dynamic leaders of the Occupy Oakland Movement kickstarted back in 2011.

The film certainly reflects Boots’ far left leanings, but is clever and entertaining enough to recommend even to members of the 1%.


Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for sexuality, graphic nudity, ethnic slurs, violence, pervasive profanity and drug use

Running time: 105 minutes

Production Studios:Cinereach / Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions / Macro / MNM Creative /The Space Program

Distributor: Annapurna Pictures


To see the trailer for Sorry to Bother You, visit:

About Kam Williams 155 Articles
Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications around the world. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee and Rotten Tomatoes. In addition to a BA in Black Studies from Cornell, he has an MA in English from Brown, an MBA from The Wharton School, and a JD from Boston University.

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