Sorry to Bother You, now in theaters, was filmed in Oakland, California, where I live, with lots of recognizable landmarks in the background. But its characters are citizens of at least one alternate realm as well. The film, written and directed by activist-musician Boots Riley, begins as a workplace comedy set in a grim telemarketing firm – the film’s title comes from the script that our hero, Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), must deliver – and quickly takes some surreal hairpin turns.
Lakeith Stanfield (left) and Armie Hammer in Sorry to Bother You
We end up in the offices of the ironically named WorryFree company, whose CEO, the hyper-libertarian Steve Lift (a composite of Steve Jobs and Lyft?), makes Cassius (also known as “Cash,” in case you didn’t catch on immediately) a Faustian offer he ultimately can’t refuse: $100 million in exchange for transforming – just for five years, you understand – into a bipedal horse-human hybrid. In the lingo of the film: an equisapien. It’s a word that, as far as I can tell, Riley invented for the film.*
I couldn’t find any images of Sorry to Bother You’s equisapiens, so here’s BoJack Horseman. More about him in a bit.