Sorry to Bother You ★★★★

Wow. Based on the trailer, I figured I'd be getting a sharp and somewhat surreal satire about race and class privilege in America, and, um, well, that is... kind of what it is? But it's also so much more.

The main narrative of this movie is exactly what the trailer makes it out to be -- a Black man takes a telemarketing job, and quickly learns that he can be more successful if he uses a "white voice" when he's making sales pitches on the phone, a plot point which the movie heightens by not simply having its Black actors code-switch, but by actually dubbing their voices with the likes of David Cross and Patton Oswalt. It's a pretty on-the-nose commentary on that's still jarringly effective in getting its point across. But this film is not content to stop there, and winds up plunging head-first into a variety of other timely topics that I don't even want to attempt to summarize, both because I'm sure I'll miss some important ones, and because part of the fun is having absolutely NO IDEA what is going on. Eventually, the plot goes off in a a few directions that, honestly, I doubt ANYONE could possibly see coming. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU may start out as a seemingly straightforward satire, but by the end of the film, the whole thing has morphed into a truly bizarre concoction that I can best describe as a capitalist Get Out meets The Twilight Zone, on a whole lot of drugs.

This is a movie with a lot of Things To Say, and it says them in a way that's simultaneously entertaining, surprising, and extremely unsettling. It almost has TOO many ideas, in the sense that there's sometimes so much going on thematically that you almost get whiplash trying to keep up with it all, but I feel like that's also kind of the point. It deliberately sets out to overwhelm and discomfit its audience, and even though that can occasionally come across kind of muddled and jolting in its mechanics, it totally works on an emotional level. (Also, the performances are great across the board, but Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, and Armie Hammer are particularly enjoyable, for very different reasons.)

It's hard to know who to recommend this sort of film to, because it really is incredibly unique, both in the story it's telling and how it chooses to tell it, and doesn't seem to care even a little bit about making the audience feel settled or comfortable. It's the kind of movie that is so full of ideas and overlapping commentary that I could probably go back to the theater right now and spot a dozen additional layers that I totally missed the first time around. So I guess I'll just say that if you like movies that make you think, that aren't afraid to take big risks, and that are almost brazen in their pursuit of Big Important Themes, it's definitely worth the trip to the theater. Just go into it with an open mind, and buckle up for a truly wild ride.