Director Adam McKay assembles an all-star cast in Don’t Look Up from Netflix. Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), an astronomy grad student, and her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), make an astounding discovery of a comet orbiting within the solar system. The problem: it’s on a direct collision course with Earth. The other problem? No one seems to care. It turns out, warning humanity about a planet-killer the size of Mount Everest is an inconvenient fact to navigate.
With the help of Dr. Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), Kate and Randall embark on a media tour that takes them from the office of an indifferent President Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her sycophantic son and Chief of Staff, Jason (Jonah Hill), to the airwaves of The Daily Rip, an upbeat morning show hosted by Brie (Cate Blanchett) and Jack (Tyler Perry). Also thrown in the mix are a tech billionaire Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance), pop singer Riley Bina (Ariana Grande), rapper DJ Chello (Kid Cudi), and an out of touch astronaut (Ron Pearlman). With only six months until the comet makes impact, managing the 24-hour news cycle and gaining the attention of the social media-obsessed public before it’s too late proves shockingly comical — what will it take to get the world to just lookup?
The screenplay for Don’t Look Up is courtesy of director Adam McKay and David Sirota. McKay, best known for his Will Ferrell collaborations, started a shift to more serious fare with 2015’s The Big Short. McKay continued this trend with the Dick Cheney biopic, Vice. McKay once again crafts a socially aware comedy that will make you think for his ninth directorial effort.
Naturally, the strength of Don’t Look Up is in the film’s acting, with McKay allowing nearly everyone in the cast a moment to shine. While Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence primarily guide the ship, signature traits from the supporting cast also help. I don’t want to spoil where McKay takes the film, but certain characters will quickly decide who is being mocked. Part of the fun in the movie is the pure ridiculousness of it all. However, in hindsight, as it’s often said, “Sometimes we laugh to keep from crying, but the important thing is to laugh, every chance we get.”
Ironically Don’t Look Up is a metaphorical merge of many real-life issues. I saw nodes to conspiracy theories, the COVID-19 pandemic, inexperienced politicians, society’s reliance on apps, and false patriotism. Any film that opens up with Jennifer Lawrence buried in her thoughts while rapping along to Wu-Tang Clan’s “Protect Ya Neck” is sure to be a wild ride. That said, view Don’t Look Up with an open mind as it will divide many viewers. Some will falsely accuse the film of being overly “woke,” while others may think it’s too real.
No matter how you feel though, there is a moment that Leonardo DiCaprio has in the film’s third act while on national TV that anyone can relate to, mainly when facts are ignored. At its core, Don’t Look Up is a political satire. However, when the film delivers its final scene, I hope viewers take away just how poignant the film is.
Final Grade: B
Don’t Look Up is in limited theaters now and arrives on Netflix December 24, 2021