Sorry to Bother You Blu-ray Review
There are only a handful of movies every year that manage to leave me gobsmacked. 2018 has been an impressive year for that feat as opposed to previous years. Films like BLACKKKLANSMAN, EIGHTH GRADE, HEREDITARY and others have left me astounded that there’s still a distinct vision, story or perspective to tell. And up until December, I’ve somehow missed the most bizarre one of them all in 2018.
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU begins as a racial satire, as Cassius Green (Stanfield) is told by one of his fellow African-American co-workers at his new telemarketing job, you would sell more if you sounded white. It’s the kind of thing black people have been told for generations in America, whether it be on the sales floors of a business or before the cameras start to roll at your local news station. Green is a natural at sounding white, thanks to an intentionally silly and poorly filmed voiceover provided David Cross, and soon the movie turns its satirical gaze towards capitalism as Green rockets up the corporate food chain.
Sitting in the background, but not for too long, to Green’s story is the company WorryFree. It’s a company that mirrors the identical consumer strategies and ethics of Amazon and WalMart. However, unlike those real world conglomerates, WorryFree isn’t shy about their business model. They require that their workers sign a lifelong contract to work in their warehouse. In exchange, those employees get things like free housing and food. Through news reports and newspaper headlines throughout the film, we learn that WorryFree is facing criticism of being 21st century slavery, but that isn’t slowing them down or hindering a devious plan that isn’t revealed until the film’s final act.
It’s in that final act that most people who are on the fence throughout will jump off quickly. While most creators would get lost in their own vision trying to juggle so many different themes, first-time director Boots Riley handles it with ease, greasing the wheels with a scope of comedy ranging from surrealist to dark. Because it’s equally farcical and serious, a lot of people will disregard it as amateurish or brutish with its messages. Unfortunately for them, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU has a lot to say about the current state of how people are treated in this economy, much like Upton Sinclair’s THE JUNGLE in the early 20th century.
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU has a lot to say and it says it with a ferociousness and absurdity we haven’t quite seen before. Besides its anti-capitalist stance, it manages to work in its own concerns about bioengineering, union busting, attempts to crackdown on street activism, and most importantly, institutional racism that continues to permeate throughout the American way of life. As one character says later in the film, “If you show people a problem, but they don’t know what to do about it, they just learn to get used to it.”
I’m not sure if Riley is an avid filmgoer, but I’d wager a guess at some point he’s found himself enamored by films like FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS or BRAZIL. It’s that kind of screwball comedy and social/political commentary that he employs throughout most of SORRY TO BOTHER YOU. Even with those influences, he feels like he’s bringing something new to the conversation about the American Dream that isn’t the simple and old argument over Republican or Democrat, white or black, or maybe even right or wrong. It’s an uncomfortable discussion about humanity’s craving to monetize one another, experiences, and goals, instead of coming together as one to succeed as a society.
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 2:39:1) The picture quality is wonderful, helping ensure that Riley’s distinctive style is intact.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) No problems with the audio.
Commentary with Director Boots Riley: While Riley is a refreshing and unique talent, he’s not that good at articulating what he likes most about his movie. Along with pregnant pauses, there are even moments where he talks about how he doesn’t feel like explaining certain scenes or talking about certain topics. Some moments provide Riley with the opportunity to expel his inner thoughts and emotions, but they’re few and far between.
Beautiful Clutter with Director Boots Riley (11:55): This interview is a lot better than the commentary because it’s a lot more sharp and focused on the unique style he brings to the table.