Sorry To Bother You Movie Review
What. Did. I. Just. Watch. The critically acclaimed Sorry to Bother You promised to be weird but is weirder than you could possibly imagine. That, however, isn’t the real problem with this off kilter socially conscious comedy. The problem: it’s just sort of boring.
The trailers, which indicated the movie was about a black man who gets a job as a telemarketer and adopts a white person voice to advance, were amazing and clearly work—a week after its release, my theater was packed full with predominantly white people, something I haven’t seen since last year’s racially charged winner Get Out.
And in many ways, first-time writer/director Boots Riley delivers what the marketing suggested: an odd, racially charged social commentary about class, income, ethics and more, full of colorful characters and strange things. The plot is weird, even deranged, but it’s entirely unpredictable and, by the end, will have you laughing in that stunned, “what the fuck was that” kind of way. Riley clearly has vision and a boldness that is utterly refreshing.
Lakeith Stanfield, who had a small but memorable role in Get Out—he’s the guy who gets kidnapped in the beginning and who actually voices the title aloud—is downright terrific here, showing tremendous range and sharing his director’s willingness to go balls to the wall.
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok) is also great, along with the rest of the cast that includes Steven Yeun and Armie Hammer.
And while the film’s third act is about as far out of left field as possible—it will be divisive, it will leave people stunned, it will surprise you, and more than likely it will make you say, “Wait, I didn’t pay money to see this, did I?”—at least Riley went for it, success or not.
No, what holds Sorry to Bother You back is something much simpler: the movie, despite all its quirks and oddities and great performances, is strangely not all that entertaining. There are funny parts, but given how zany the movie is, there should have been a lot more. There are stretches where I fidgeted in my seat out of boredom—not outright boredom, but that kind of nagging “this is almost really good but it’s not quite there” kind of way.
Riley has vision, but with his first venture he doesn’t quite connect that vision to scenes that consistently click.
It’s a real shame, because there is a lot to like and certainly respect about Sorry to Bother You. But as bold and confident as it is, the final product is uneven and a bit of a chore to sit through. And that, combined with its left-turn conclusion that will turn casual moviegoers off, makes its hard to recommend.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.