2018 Boots Riley Capitalism Certified Weird (The List) Comedy Faustian Independent film Recommended Satire Technology



“When I’m making my art, it really doesn’t help me to think about the definitions of what I’m doing. So what I do comes out ridiculous, or funny, or weird. That’s because the world is ridiculous, funny, and weird.”–Boots Riley

DIRECTED BY: Boots Riley

FEATURING: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, Omari Hardwick, Jermaine Fowler, David Cross (voice), Patton Oswalt (voice), Danny Glover

PLOT: Cassius Inexperienced can’t discover a job and must pay payments, so he hires on at a telemarketing agency. As soon as he learns to make use of his “white voice,” he discovers he has a preternatural present for promoting, and whereas his co-workers stage a strike, he’s promoted to a “Power Caller” promoting questionable providers to obscenely rich shoppers. When he reaches the highest rung of the company ladder, the CEO of the corporate gives him a morally repugnant deal.

Still from Sorry to Bother You (2018)


  • Director Boots Riley was a rap musician, music producer,  political activist, and former telemarketer for greater than twenty-five years earlier than writing and directing this, his first function movie. It was workshopped on the Sundance writing lab.
  • The thought for Sorry to Hassle You originated from an unused track idea the place Riley would rap as a telemarketer promoting slave labor. In 2012 his hip-hop band The Coup produced an album of the identical identify impressed by the then-unfinished screenplay.
  • An early model of the screenplay was revealed in McSweeney’s journal in 2014.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: We don’t need to describe it, as a result of it’s a spoiler. Simply put together for a shock after Cassius snorts an enormous line of—cocaine?—off a plate adorned with a horse. In addition to that, the long-lasting picture for advertising functions is Cassius in a enterprise go well with together with his head bandaged and a circle of pink soaking by way of, iconography suggesting a mix of the company and the revolutionary.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Commentary by earring; Mr. ___; equisapien MLK

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Boots Riley’s out-of-nowhere satire performs like one thing Putney Swope‘s long-lost grandson might have dreamed up after an all-night pot-smoking session. I’m not going to get swept up by the mainstream hyperbole and inform you that it dials the absurdity as much as “11”—nevertheless it pushes a strong 9.

Alternate promotional trailer for Sorry to Hassle You

COMMENTS: Sorry to Hassle You is sneaky bizarre; it strangens slowly however persistently, till a 3rd act flip in the direction of sci-fi and lightweight surrealism that loses the mainstream viewers (pattern buyer evaluate: “The trailer showed a comedy, this was just a bizarre twisted story and waste of the short time I have with my husband and on planet earth!”) It begins conventionally, with Cassius Inexperienced interviewing for a telemarketing job for which he seems to be barely overqualified. The interviewer shortly sniffs out that Cassius has faked his résumé, however doesn’t care; he’ll rent “damn near anyone,” so long as they will learn (in order that they will obey the telemarketer’s main rule: “stick to the script.”) This opening is humorous, and extra importantly it provides us the right introduction to our protagonist: he appears principally respectable however is pushed to take determined measures to earn a dwelling. He’s additionally a bit out of his league. He’s the sort of man who tells the fuel station attendant “forty on two” and means forty cents. So when “Cash” will get a bit style of success and a few inexperienced in his pocket, you utterly perceive why he’s prepared to make an ethical compromise or two, and even midway root for him to get prime greenback for that soul he’s promoting. In fact, these ethical compromises will shortly snowball into an ethical avalanche, however there wouldn’t be a film in any other case, would there?

The primary actual trace that one thing is off on this world and that we’re not dwelling in your on a regular basis comedy, and even in the actual world. comes within the type of an commercial for “Worry Free Living”: an organization providing a lifetime employment contract in trade for meals and dormitory-style shelter, an association that appears suspiciously like consensual slavery. Sorry to Hassle You orients its viewers in a well-known Hollywoodesque comedy style earlier than springing shock after shock because the plot will get deeper and weirder. We’re eased into the strangeness with magical realist comedy sketches: nonetheless sporting his headset, Money seems within the flesh at his chilly calls’ dinner tables, amongst extra intimate settings. Then there’s the uncanny “white voice” (defined in a monologue by veteran Danny Glover, who pops in primarily simply to do that scene). By the point Money is excessive on cocaine watching a stop-motion company propaganda movie hosted by a topless ape lady, you’re completely immersed and invested in an anything-can-happen world very totally different from the place we began. Detroit’s confrontational earrings, a personality whose identify has been redacted, a blood-soaked efficiency artwork monologue from The Final Dragon, and a badly improvised humiliating rap are just some of the cleverly absurd gags that assist distract us the nightmare state of affairs on the middle of the movie. It really works on two ranges: genuinely humorous, at occasions even hilarious, the laughs maintain the viewers hypnotized of their seats whereas the message seeps into the brains. Identical to any good advert marketing campaign.

As true narrative movie, Sorry to Hassle You follows a regular arc: humble hero accepts Faustian discount, good points the world however loses his soul/real love, repents. However that familiarity is well-disguised by a barrage of methods—absurdist comedy, magical realist sequences, recent views, and outrageous satirical conceits—to the purpose the place the film looks like one thing completely new. Its cliches are hidden amongst what Riley calls “beautiful clutter.” As an completed creator, however an outsider to the world of movie, it’s not a lot that Riley is breaking the principles as that he by no means discovered them. Coming from the world of rap music, he appropriates movie types like they have been music samples: a bit of Robert Downey Sr. right here, somewhat Michel Gondry there, stealing solely from the most effective. As a musical producer, he understands how you can assemble a group of execs to do their technical jobs to satisfy his imaginative and prescient. It could be delightfully ragged in temperament, however Sorry to Hassle You is crisply produced and has a glance that belies its comparatively modest finances and rushed manufacturing schedule.

The casting is impeccable, with every character being likable or despicable as required. Lakeith Stanfield’s Cassius is awkward and existentially confused. When he accepts offers requiring growing ranges of compromise, it’s not simply because he’s grasping. It’s not that he needs to selfishly improve his automotive and his condo—he provides plenty of his wage away—a lot as that he’s determined for the which means and price he assumes attaches to cash. That’s why we sympathize together with his each transfer; he feels that he’s lastly being acknowledged and incomes respect for being good at one thing, a objective we will recognize. He’s such a pleasant man that we don’t really feel dangerous admitting the that we’d be tempted by the offers he accepts. Money is simpler to determine with than his idealistic pals, who’re, nicely, beliefs. They aren’t absolutely fleshed out characters like Cassius, however this isn’t a sensible drama; their objective is to light up the hero’s dilemma. Detroit (Tessa Thompson) is the girlfriend who validates Money’s true human value: sensible, inventive, unbiased, she values him regardless of his lack of prospects. Steven Yeun’s Squeeze, the union organizer, represents political dedication; he’s logically a greater match for Detroit (in addition to a grasp signal spinner), and subsequently an actual menace to Money’s safety. However he’s so respectable that he wouldn’t steal the woman away—until Money slips up royally. Jermaine Fowler is the high-pitched comedy aid and the unassuming good friend who calls for loyalty. This trio represents every little thing Money turns his again on for company development: friendship, integrity, and actual connection. On the opposite aspect are an more and more unscrupulous collection of rungs on the ladder of success: the scabby name middle managers who tempt Money with the promise of turning into a “Power Caller”; a extra presentable (and flirtatious) middle-management liaison (comedian Kate Berlant) who is aware of the code to the Golden Elevator; the sycophantic elevator voice (provided by Rosario Dawson) who assures salesmen that they’re “the top of the reproductive pile”; Money’s quick supervisor, performed by Omari Hardwick in weird facial hair and a bowler hat; and eventually, on the very prime, Steve Carry (Hammer), the debaucherous bro in sandals who throws the perfect events with the most effective coke, and who’s prepared to promote something that may hold him on prime. Sure, they’re all one-dimensional, however once more, this can be a comedy… they usually’re humorous.

And humorous, in fact, is the essential technique. Riley understands that a joke is simpler than a sermon. Sorry to Hassle You’s world is analogous sufficient to our personal to be recognizable, however askew sufficient off that the satire by no means looks like a paint-by-numbers allegory. There are not any apparent characters from the present administration, however there’s a actuality TV present referred to as “I Got the S#*@ Kicked Out of Me!”, and it’s attainable to turn out to be a 15-minute movie star by having a video of you being brained with a coke could make the rounds on YouTube. The film addresses problems with racial id, carnivalesque cultural depravity, and the working class’ monetary treadmill with a contact that’s mild however agency. Firms are the dangerous guys and union organizers are the great guys, true, however Sorry wears its leftist themes surprisingly flippantly. By placing you in Money’s footwear, it makes its case by means of empathy as an alternative of lectures. It’s a sneaky sucker punch sq. within the zeitgeist’s intestine. Sorry to Hassle You has no purpose to apologize.


“… may be the most wonderfully bizarre film of 2018… if you dig the handmade surrealism of Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry or the antiestablishment weirdness of Repo Man, then this one is undoubtedly for you.”–Chris Nashawaty, Leisure Weekly (contemporaneous)

“‘Sorry to Bother You,’ Boots Riley’s see-it-to-believe-it feature debut as a director, goes from agreeably strange to weird to surreal, but its brilliance lies in how it never stops feeling real, genuine, lived-in.”–Invoice Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic (contemporaneous)

“…weird and funny and unsettling, and not quite like anything I’ve seen before.”–Alissa Wilkinson, Vox (contemporaneous)


Sorry to Hassle You – The trailer, some behind the scenes stills, and a hyperlink to some distinctive merchandise (principally bought out by now)

Sorry to Hassle You – House – Official Fb web page

Annapurna – Distributor Annapurna’s “For Your Consideration” awards web page gained’t wait for lengthy however has a few free goodies: a downloadable copy of the script and a soundtrack mp3 of the music “OYAHYTT”

IMDB LINK: Sorry to Hassle You (2018)


IMDb Present | Interview with ‘Sorry to Bother You’ Director Boots Riley and Star Lakeith Stanfield – Brief YouTube interview with the director and star

Boots Riley Mines His Experiences As A Telemarketer In ‘Sorry To Bother You’ – Interview with Riley for NPR’s “Fresh Air” (podcast and transcript)

Boots Riley goes from ‘musician with a script’ to potential hitmaker with ‘Sorry to Bother You’ – One other profile of the director, for the Chicago Tribune

Boots Riley on How His Hit Film “Sorry to Bother You” Slams Capitalism & Gives Options – Closely political YouTube interview with Democracy Now

Is Hollywood prepared for the sensible weirdness of Lakeith Stanfield? – Washington Publish profile of Sorry to Hassle You‘s star

Boots Riley Defends Tessa Thompson’s Sorry to Hassle You Character: ‘Detroit Is Not a Prize’ – Riley responds to criticism of his characterization of Sorry to Hassle You‘s solely vital feminine character

Let’s Speak About Detroit’s Iconic Earrings in ‘Sorry to Bother You’ – Tejah Wilson decodes the hidden messages in Detroit’s earrings for “Black Girl Nerds”

LIST CANDIDATE: SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (2018) – This website’s unique evaluate of Sorry to Hassle You


McSweeney’s Situation 48 – The unique model of the screenplay as revealed in 2014

HOME VIDEO INFO: The DVD or Blu-ray (purchase) arrive by way of 20th Century Fox in a well timed trend. A Boots Riley commentary is the primary attraction. There’s additionally “Beautiful Clutter,” an 11-minute dialogue with Riley; a stills gallery; and two promotional trailers together with the official trailer (and trailers for different present Fox Searchlight properties).

The film can also be out there for digital buy or rental on-demand.