Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morrow, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande
Written by: (also story) Adam McKay and (account) David Sirota
Running Time: 138 mins
Release date: 10th December 2021
If you have been watching social media recently, you would know the mixed bag of reviews for Adam McKay’s star-studded satire, Don’t Look Up. A tale of a comet heading to Earth has had many complaining while others praise it. The fact that this is a Netflix movie that can be ready viewed means there are more comments about it than usual. Yet while this is an obvious satire and is far too long, it’s not as bad as people are making out.
Kate Dibiasky, an astronomy grad student, and her professor Dr Randall Mindy make a discovery. A giant comet is heading to Earth and could wipe out the world. This information is shared with Space Agency scientist Dr Oglethorpe, and the three need to tell the President. Unfortunately, with scandals and her own mid-terms coming up, President Orlean and her son, Jason’s Chief of Staff, don’t care. Along with a daily news programme where good news is all they care about, the team find it incredibly hard to convince anyone that they are on the verge of destruction.
The main criticism for the film is that McKay has gone for obvious targets for his satire: the media, a President with their own agenda and the ignorance of people brainwashed into believing one thing and not caring about the truth. All these things can be seen as a parallel to the previous administration in American politics. It could also be said that the pandemic, with its anti-vaccination groups, are also under attack here from the writer and director.
Is it a crime to be so blatant? Satire can be a very delicate tightrope to walk. Be too obvious, and you fear being accused of libel. Being too subtle, and you lose the joke, McKay has altered enough for the audience to know who he is aiming his humour at while never once actually pointing fingers. The President, a female, stuck in a scandal and with a son who doesn’t quite get it, is all you need to see where McKay’s target it. Along with news network who care little for the truth, throwing in an anchor who knows a good thing when she sees it as Dr Randell becomes increasingly popular.
Add into the mix Peter Isherwood, a tech guru who can see the cash value in the comet instead of impending doom, and you have a film that does have laughs, although not as many as you hope for. The running gag of the FBI hooding anyone they arrest is a hoot, while various relationships that Dr Randell and Kate become involved in slow the film down.
The cast is mouth-watering. Leonardo DeCaprio is fun and lets his hair down as the angst-ridden Dr Randell, while Jennifer Lawrence goes for a very different approach as the loud and angry Kate, who can see the chaos around her while no one really cares. Cate Blanchett is perfectly cast as the anchor who uses her sex appeal while never being the most intelligent woman in the room, and Mark Rylance is over-the-top as Isherwood, with the best teeth this side of Rylan Clark-Neal. Not forgetting Meryl Streep and Johan Hill, as the President and her son, who are a blast.
Don’t Look Up isn’t a masterpiece, and it does have its peaks and troughs. There are plenty of moments to enjoy, and if you can forgive it for its apparent targets, you will have a good time. Just don’t get too heated up about it.
3 out of 5
Available to watch on Netflix