Summary: Desperately in need of a job, Cassius Green takes a job as a telemarketer and finds success using a “white voice.”
Sorry to Bother You grabbed my attention from the moment I saw the trailer. A Black man acting “white” to get ahead in his profession? SIGN ME UP. With a smart premise, some fantasy elements, as well as starring LaKeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Get Out), Tessa Thompson (literally everything), and Steven Yeun (one of four good things on The Walking Dead, right behind Carol and Michonne, but ahead of Merle), I was on board right away.
The good news is, Sorry to Bother You is pretty damn funny from start to end. The disappointing news is that it’s not quite as strong as its trailer and in its third act, there’s a noticeable drop off in the pacing and it starts to feel long. No spoilers, but the film gets knocked off its tracks and doesn’t recover in its ending. It’s almost like they didn’t really know how to wrap it up and decided to throw in an “on-the-nose” (heh… pun if you’ve seen it) allegory and hope that people would be able to make the connection.
In general, themes are introduced (and there are several), but they’re not driven home or resolved. The initial theme- that a Black man needs to adopt White traits in order to get ahead professionally only extends itself to the voice and it’s more of a tee-hee when Cassius is on the phone. It doesn’t move into other areas (style of dress, mannerisms, or posture for example), and it has very little to do with the end of the movie. It does come off as a bit scattered in some places, but most of its jokes hit their targets with great success. The general ideas that Sorry to Bother You presents do have interesting messages or funny commentary to them.
And… the first two-thirds of this movie are so, so much fun. Really witty dialogue and excellent acting. I did find the dubbing of the “white” voice to be somewhat distracting, as the actor’s mouth movements and motions didn’t always match the tone of the voice, but the content of the dialogue- oh boy. Just look out for a scene when Cassius is asked to turn off his voice and rap. The dynamic of the cast is great, with extra stars going to Stanfield and Armie Hammer for playing the smarmiest of smarmy people. He wears a bathrobe like no other.
While I think Sorry to Bother You is fun to watch in a wacky kind of way and sparks good conversation, it definitely could have benefitted from a tighter script and perhaps more thought in its ending.