Welcome one and all to Flixist’s new end of the year awards program, the Golden Cages! With Hollywood becoming increasingly out of touch with what the people like, we at Flixist have taken it upon ourselves to deliver the fair, balanced, dignity-filled awards you deserve. Why are we delivering our 2018 awards so late in the year? Because the Oscars do it and we’re better than them. The winners of the Golden Cages will be spread out over the next two weeks, right before the hostless Academy Awards.
From Cassius Green’s name to the perverse game show mostly run as a background gag, Sorry to Bother You is a vertical slice of satire for modern American corporate culture that only becomes more timely with each passing day.
Working for a living sucks, and deciding that you don’t have the unhinged avarice and greed to climb the corporate ladder means getting pissed on by the sour stream of trickle-down economics. That’s the sort of exhausting truth which Boots Riley captures through a wickedly perverse lens, blending tones that are at once almost too real to be amusing and outlandishly surreal. It’s a hell of a ride, and a more compelling script hasn’t been committed to film this year.
As Cassius Green picks up a telemarketting gig that pays at best next-to-nothing and at worst absolutely nothing, he finds that the only path to success for him is to pretend to be a carefree upper-middle class white guy so that people want to buy from him. This allows him to climb each warped floor of his eployer’s building, and though it brings him wealth and a capitalistic idea of success, he’s still exploited, lied to, and browbeaten with casual racism. It’s a pretty straightforward pro-worker, pro-union parable told with breathtaking color and a sort of carefree joy. Concepts like the white voice and a horse-man workforce are reminders that great satires bend our unpleasant truths into a riotous absurdity.
It’s compared to Get Out and certainly shares elements and themes, but while Get Out enjoyed massive success and a huge release, it seems that Sorry to Bother You, a more transgressive film in my opinion, has been been shrunk down and will never reach the same audience. That’s a shame, because this is a movie that packs its potent message into a crazy entertaining package. With the Academy not so much as twitching its nose in Sorry to Bother You‘s direction, it’s Flixist’s duty (as a much more important and popular award distributor) to give this lightning rod of a script the praise it deserves.
The most amazing thing about Riley’s script is that despite it feeling more prescient than ever, the entirety of the script was first published in McSweeney’s Quarterly in 2014–during the Obama administration. This might say more about the class division and struggles in America than the movie itself, but despite its half-decade on the back burner, Sorry to Bother You presses a firm finger on our cultural pulse and follows its rhythm to an illogical and cathartic conclusion.
Sorry to Bother You is a freewheeling allegory that holds a fresh cartoonishness that absolutely drips originality and provides a fresh jolt in every scene. There are few films that can be as simultaneously unpredictable and rewarding as this. Look, any movie that uses a monologue from The Last Dragon as a piece of anti-capitalistic performance art is one that’s sharp and strange as a an octopus’ beak, and there’s no script more worthy of receiving our Golden Cage this year.