Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Armie Hammer
Director: Boots Riley
“In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed”(IMDB).
What to Expect
Why You Should Watch It
This colorful social commentary makes you question how strong your own morals are concerning capitalism, slavery, and financial stability. What would you do for a Klondike bar, if that Klondike bar was a six-figure check? Riley’s storytelling techniques are quirky and grab your attention long enough for the third act twist to come out of left field and sucker punch you in the face. It’s a joyride of a film.
Must See! (A)
I like to Google articles about the weird movies I watch to see how others have interpreted them, and I was a little disappointed to see one of the most central issues not addressed anywhere: that Worry Free’s pastel slave labor corporation with tasteful wall mounts in every cell reflects private prisons in the US, which are in the business of keeping people incarcerated–and are criticized as modern-day slavery.
Cassius (Stanfield) literally sells slaves to keep himself and his family out of slavery in turn. He willfully ignores the humanitarian crisis of Worry Free until it threatens to directly affect him by transforming him into an equisapien. Which, despite the utter unpredictability of such a twist, still symbolizes the dehumanization of both prisoners and employees in large corporations. It’s a surprise that is barely hinted at. Besides the Mr. Bobo plate you can buy on the movie’s website, Steve Lift (Hammer) is seen wearing an equestrian jacket and wielding a riding crop at his party, and the apples Hardwick’s character always tosses around–plus the one Lift tosses to Cash–could be a MacGuffin, or it could be referencing a snack horses eat.
Mr. _____ (Hardwick) is an important character because he suggests Black people can only be successful in corporate America if they act White. We see Cash rise in the ranks because he not only adopts a White voice, but the privilege that comes with the race. When we are first introduced to Mr. _____, he is mysterious and debonair, but then he speaks and you realize his success was attained by assimilation, not by standing out.
Riley also uses Sorry to Bother You to comment on microaggressions people of color are subjected to on a daily basis. At Lift’s party, Cash is presumed to have shot someone before simply because of the color of his skin, and then is forced to rap in front of everyone in spite of his insistences that he can’t. Before he knows it, he has a whole crowd of White people heedlessly chanting the N-word for several verses.
This movie is steeped in clues, color and symbolism, and I love it. Detroit (Thompson) usually has makeup or glitter around her left eye or under both eyes to signify she’s part of the resistance, when her earrings aren’t screaming it in warped Bob Dylan lyrics. The copy machine going crazy behind Cash’s head when he first starts his telemarking job is only one of several background scenes taking place throughout the film. And the picture of (presumably) Cash’s father who acts like a little angel on his shoulder by reacting accordingly to his son’s life choices is awesome. There are so many details in this movie that it warrants at least two viewings, one just to go along for the ride, and one to read into the deeper messages Riley is trying to convey.