Sorry to Bother You

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Sorry to Bother You Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Very mature satire is unique, impossible to dismiss.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie offers plenty to discuss amid its barrage of ideas, including the concept of "selling out" and why buyers might prefer their salespeople to have "white" voices over "black" voices. The movie is anti-corporation and pro-union without providing much explanation for either stance.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are mostly in service of the movie's over-the-top story; they seem to be ridiculed as often as they seem to stand up for what's right. Some moments in which characters choose to do the right thing.

Violence

Disturbing, monstrous images of unsettling, grotesque creatures. Art performance in which a woman is pelted with cell phones, bags of sheep's blood, and bullet casings. Bloody head wound. Strong fantasy violence, with blood.

Sex

Graphic sex. Topless women. Naked male genitals shown (realistic, but not real). Extreme nudity in an animated sequence. A couple kisses and seems headed toward sex, but they're interrupted. Sex references. Earrings in the shape of male organs. Sexy outfit.

Language

Extremely strong, constant language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," the "N" word, "c--ts," "t-ts," "c--k," "bitch," "a--hole," "d--k," "damn," "piss."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking, with some drunkenness. Social pot smoking. Bad guy snorts cocaine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sorry to Bother You is a very mature satirical comedy with unreal elements. Written and directed by Oakland rapper Boots Riley, it includes disturbing, monstrous imagery, as well as fantasy-type violence and a bloody head wound. An art show involves audience members throwing bags of sheep's blood, bullet casings, and cell phones at a woman on stage (she's in charge). There's graphic nudity (both male and female) and explicit sexual situations. Language is extremely strong and pervasive, with almost constant use of "f--k," "s--t," the "N" word, and more. Characters drink socially (sometimes too much), as well as smoke pot and use cocaine. It's not perfect, but it's rebellious, funny, and full of ideas.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 14-year-old Written byLisa K. April 5, 2020

Very creepy

This movie was weird and creepy. I wish I hadn’t watched it as I keep having really disturbing flashbacks. I am 50. This movie would have totally freaked out my... Continue reading
Parent of a 14-year-old Written bything66 March 3, 2019

Kinda boring

It's kinda boring but hilarious to see if you are a young teen.
Teen, 16 years old Written bybeasty February 16, 2019

A must see

OK, this movie started like any other but if you stay tuned long enough things get really REALLY freaky, I'm honestly impressed that they managed to make s... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bymerith July 21, 2019

Parents won't let their kids watch this, but honestly they can handle it.

saw this with my boyfriend when I was 13, and I could handle it. Parents won't want their kids watching this movie, but it doesn't really have any dis... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) lives in his uncle's garage and has trouble making ends meet until he lands a job as a telemarketer for RegalView. But he's unable to make any sales until he receives (and follows) this advice from a co-worker (Danny Glover): "Use your 'white' voice." Cassius quickly rises through the ranks and gets promoted to the upper echelon of the company. He's suddenly making tons of money but must still regularly speak in his "white" voice (provided by David Cross). Meanwhile, Cassius' artist/activist girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), and his former co-workers attempt to unionize, while he's invited to a swanky party to meet the RegalView CEO (Armie Hammer). Cassius guiltily attends, but while trying to find the bathroom, he discovers what's really going on.

Is it any good?

This impossible to categorize movie starts off as a hilarious satire and then veers into territory so unexpected (and queasy) that it may alienate many. But others will find it a rebellious mess that's difficult to dismiss. Written and directed by Oakland rapper Boots Riley -- his filmmaking debut -- Sorry to Bother You has the makings of a cult film, à la other everything-including-the-kitchen-sink movies such sa Repo Man, Idiocracy, and How to Talk to Girls at Parties. It can be exhausting, and even its hero frequently looks simply bewildered, but it's so full of ideas -- and so outraged over racism, capitalism, and stupidity -- that it's worth a second look, or more.

Certainly the movie is raw and unevenly paced, and it sometimes feels more angry than fun, but fine performers like Stanfield, Thompson, Hammer, Glover, and Terry Crews bring much-needed sympathy and energy to their scenes. They're funny and appealingly flawed. And Riley's screenplay keeps taking risky twists, introducing strange new environments and elements, which may settle into a groove on subsequent viewings. Art band tUnE-yArDs provides the haywire music, and Riley's own group The Coup adds a song or two, just to heighten the sense of disarray. To be sure, Sorry to Bother You is here to bother you, and it's definitely not sorry.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Sorry to Bother You. Is it meant to thrill -- or to inspire discussion? Does it succeed?

  • Is the movie scary or disturbing? Which images are most unsettling, and why?

  • How does the movie depict sex? Are there examples of responsible, trusting sex? What are the alternatives?

  • How is substance use portrayed in the movie? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • What are some of the movie's messages? What does it have to say about corporations? Unions? Capitalism and selling? Do you think it has the potential to become a cult film? Why or why not?

Movie details

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