HomeMovies'Don't Look Up' is a Divisive Portrait of Our Lives

‘Don’t Look Up’ is a Divisive Portrait of Our Lives


Have you ever watched a film so on-the-nose of real life social events that it absolutely astounds you that you’ve lived through it? You don’t need me to tell you how the COVID-19 pandemic has divided this world like nothing we’ve ever seen and it was a matter of time before someone made it the source of a socio-political satire. Enter writer-director Adam McKay, the right person for the job to tackle both ends of the spectrum of these issues with an erratic jolt of comedy we sorely needed to cope with all of this.

Don’t Look Up is not going to be for everyone. It’s important we get that out of the way now. There has been so much politicizing of a virus that was backed up by scientific fact that it actually hurts the brain to delve too deep into it. That’s where this film comes in, to lighten the mood, while also making you think, “well, we handled that poorly.”

So, what’s the story? Essentially, a comet is blasting its way to Earth, ready to obliterate life as we know it. Discovered by a PhD. candidate (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and her anxiety-ridden professor (Leonardo DiCaprio), it will hit the planet in six months. The race is on to inform the President of the United States (Meryl Streep), so that she may form a plan with the rest of the world’s leaders to possibly blast it out of the sky. This, however, does not go well, as Madam President and her cabinet act very nonchalantly about the certain doom they will be in if they do not act fast. This divides the country, with some believing in science and fact, and others in a political agenda and their own self-righteousness. Sounds familiar, right?

Now, I know what the consensus is here. A comet and a virus are two different beasts. That is correct, and while the allegory is exaggerated for cinematic effect, the journey to said effect is what makes the film strong. To watch and, in some sense, rewatch, desperate scientists warn society of the dangers of what’s to come and what steps to take to prevent it, sends a shiver down the spine. Worse, is consuming more of the selfish political agenda that ALL, regardless of party, politicians deploy to save face and come out looking great and powerful in the long-run. Add in a sprinkle of deplorable and over-the-top media coverage, and you’ve got a recipe for our current state of being disguised as a disaster flick. 

Enough vamping, how is the movie as a movie? The best word I can find to describe the film is “unfortunate”. It’s unfortunate we got this film because of this mishandling and coverage of COVID-19, yet, in a small way, it’s a victory. Don’t Look Up is directed superbly by McKay, with each scene purposefully placed to entice dread or comedy—sometimes both at the same time.

The film is arguably too long (138 minutes), but I honestly couldn’t think of anything to cut out. The acting is top-notch, especially from Jennifer Lawrence’s Kate, who is tasked with playing the hysterical role of someone unable to understand why no one is as worried as she is. Lawrence works the camera around her, someone you’re rooting for to be right, more so when she gets labeled crazy and becomes an internet meme.

DiCaprio, as usual, is also on point, conveying both a neurotic, anxious and depressed scientist cast into the limelight as a hero and spokesperson for discovering the comet. If that doesn’t make sense, trust me, it does as the film progresses, but spoilers are a no-no here. Meryl Streep NEEDED to be the President here. She is able to establish an astonishing amount of arrogance and ignorance, commanding respect and power with every second of screen presence. Some will look at this as an attack on the Trump administration, but I’d argue it’s the arrogance of most politicians and is no more about Trump than Idiocracy is about the Bush administration. 

The rest of the cast from Jonah Hill to Timothée Chalamet to Cate Blanchett round out the cast perfectly. We are delivered a view of how everyone feels about the comet, from corporate spearheads to man-babies to the press to normal, everyday human beings. My one complaint might be Mark Rylance, who seems to be using a more over-the-top version of his character from Ready Player One here.

I’ll reiterate: THIS MOVIE IS GOING TO PISS OFF A LOT OF PEOPLE! It pissed me off. Living through events like this have been frustrating and scary. It takes a very dark sense of humor to cope with this and that’s what I believe Adam McKay and company have done here. Don’t Look Up is a film I think we will look at years from now and get a real kick out of because of just how on-the-nose it is. 

Don’t Look Up is now streaming on Netflix.


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