The Stream: A political satire that’s not very funny.
The Big Screen: A large, star-studded ensemble led by Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Final Bill: Don’t Look Up is too distressing to be entertaining and not funny enough to make it worthwhile.– Tripp Fontaine
Director: Adam McKay
Writers: Adam McKay (screenplay by); Adam McKay & David Sirota (story by)
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill & Cate Blanchett
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating: R for language throughout, some sexual content, graphic nudity and drug content
Runtime: 2 hours 18 minutes
Production Companies: Bluegrass Films, Hyperobject Industries
Platform: Netflix released December 24, 2021
Merry Christmas, Streamers! Santa Claus brought us a new Adam McKay political satire movie. Well, actually, it was Netflix who dropped Don’t Look Up in our stocking. With a cast filled with movie stars and an intriguing premise, it’s no wonder Netflix gifted us this flick on Christmas, but were we naughty or nice? Here’s whether Don’t Look Up is actually a lump of coal.
Adam McKay has been in socio-political satire mode since The Big Short. He has gone back to that well for Don’t Look Up but with a more ridiculous sensibility. In this film, a PhD student in astronomy, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), discovers a comet orbiting in the solar system. In analyzing her discovery, Diabiasky’s professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) calculates the trajectory of the comet and determines that it is on course to make direct impact with Earth. Because of the comet’s size, impact will be a catastrophic event leading to extinction of all life on Earth. Dr. Mindy and Dibiasky embark on a mission to warn the people of the world of this impending devastating event. Along the way, they encounter the MAGA-esque President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep), her dimwitted, sycophantic son/Chief of Staff, Jason (Jonah Hill), some airheaded news anchors (Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry) and many others who refuse to believe the science and allow ultimate disaster to continue hurtling towards Earth. Hijinks ensue?
Don’t Look Up is like a mix between Armageddon and Idiocracy, but never reaches the mindless spectacle of the former nor the sharp foresight of the latter. Adam McKay’s script has turned the percolating concern about climate change and the willful ignorance around the COVID-19 pandemic into this obvious farce about intergalactic doom. All the societal players are lampooned: politicians, news media, scientists and tech billionaires. The problem is that there’s nothing smart about any of what’s being said or the comedy that’s supposedly depicted in the situation. There have been better and funnier critiques in other venues. In fact, it’s just frustrating and sad. This approximation of our current socio-political climate is not funny, entertaining or enlightening. There’s no insight in reflecting what many in American society already know about our institution. What’s worse is that McKay provides no potential solutions. We’re just headed for disaster, so just accept it, I guess.
Unfortunately, while this film features a large cast including DiCaprio, Streep, Blanchett, Lawrence, Hill, Perry, with cameos by Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Timothy Chalamet, and more, the star power cannot save or distract from what’s otherwise deeply depressing.
If you are looking to escape from the bleakness of the world, then Don’t Look Up will not likely provide that respite. If you want to see a star-studded socio-political satire with echoes of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of willful ignorance, then you may enjoy this movie. Unfortunately, Adam McKay did not bring the comedy nor the insight necessary to make his agenda in this movie worth the 2-hour-plus runtimes. Since this film is on Netflix and, even though it is depressing and stress-inducing, it is not boring, but to be safe just grab a handful of popcorn while giving Don’t Look Up a glance.