Director: Adam McKay
Writer: Adam McKay
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mary Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Cate Blanchett, and Meryl Streep
Don’t Look Up is a cynical satire that gives a depressing outlook on the world we live in, and Netflix has released it just in time for Christmas. Adam McKay’s latest film has some very high comedy moments while also leaving you in a sunken pit of despair. Critically it’s received a similar reaction to his previous film, Vice, a satirical look at the state of politics in America. Don’t Look Up has a much wider scope, but the same sense of humour. If you got along with Vice then this will probably be a safe bet for you, and vice versa.
When astronomy student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a comet that’s heading straight to Earth, she, and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) are flown to meet President Orlean (Meryl Streep) to discuss the cataclysmic effect it will have. Orlean is less than concerned about the comet, which causes the frustrated Kate and Randall to leak the news to the press. It’s just everyone is more concerned about pop sensation Riley Bina (Ariana Grande) and her on/off relationship to recognise that everyone is going to die in about six months.
Adam McKay has a very cynical perspective on the world and how people would react to life shattering news like this. The script was before the pandemic was even imaginable, but it feels like it was written in reaction to it. There are people who don’t believe it’s going to affect them, money hungry businessmen who want to make a profit out of it, a president who is too slow to react to the situation, divisive politicising of science just because people don’t want to believe something bad could happen. The title comes from the group of people that are denying the comet’s existence, while Kate and Randall are telling people to just look up.
It’s a depressing outlook, especially since if that last two years have really shown us anything, McKay is a lot closer to the truth than we’d want to believe. It only takes a few minutes on Twitter to find some of the most ridiculous opinions from all sides being shared as facts. The stupidity of the world has been in full force. With how close Don’t Look Up hits to reality, it’s scary how little exaggeration is needed to make it funny.
You don’t need to worry for a second that it’s all doom and gloom, it is also incredibly funny. McKay’s dark sense of humour is in full force, and he pulls no punches. There’s a great running joke about a general who sold the main characters snacks, even though he got them for free and just didn’t tell them. The general way people are acting is great, it feels real, and it works. There is also a very thinly veiled parody of a certain world leader, as well as the owner of one of the biggest companies in the world. We all know who they are the moment they show up on screen.
The cast is amazing. It feels like every face that pops up is a massive name. DiCaprio is excellent, and who doesn’t want to see him go out of control, shouting about the end of days of TV. Lawrence gives one of her best performances to date. Streep is fantastic, but it’s impossible to name a role where she’s not. Then there’s just so many people who pop up throughout. It’s one of the biggest casts of recent years.
Don’t Look Up is going to be divisive. If you’ve liked McKay’s previous films, then it’s really worth a go, if you didn’t like then give it a miss. If you click with it, then it is genuinely funny and at the same time deeply depressing.
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