Don’t Look Up is from director Adam McKay. He is known for his partnership with Will Ferrell in cinema, having done a few raunchy comedies together in the past. Lately, he’s tackled more important subject matter, albeit still a bit hilarious: Vice and The Big Short. In his latest film, he gets the hands-off treatment from Netflix and goes apocalyptic with Don’t Look Up.
Don’t Look Up is about a college student at Michigan State (Jennifer Lawrence) and her professor (Leonardo DiCaprio), who together found a comet far off at the back of the milky way galaxy. They call the appropriate authorities (Rob Morgan) to check their findings. Then they are escorted to the White House to brief the President (Meryl Streep) and her chief of staff (Jonah Hill). They basically get laughed out of the White House and sent on their way with their tails between their legs.
McKay came up with this story before the COVID-19 pandemic, but this story had an eerily similar feel to the people who don’t believe the pandemic was real. Instead, it’s a giant planet-killing comet hurtling towards the Earth. He uses talk shows to try to get the message across with big-name actors as the hosts. This film is filled with A-list stars such as Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry as the hosts of said talk show, Mark Rylance as a tech company owner, Ron Perlman as an ex-military officer turned astronaut, Timothée Chalamet as the boyfriend of Lawrence’s character toward the end of the film, and Melanie Lynskey as DiCaprio’s character’s wife.
The geopolitical climate this film tries to discuss is very spot on. How it deals with two sides of differing opinions is very good. It is comical in some senses because when you actually think about it, it’s funny. The actors seem like they are having fun with the material. So it must be effective as far as how the words read on the page or characters might be improvising a little bit. Either way, it shows in the end product that this material works.
The technical aspects of the film are on point. The camera work is solid and all the below-the-line categories do a very good job of making this film look and feel very good. The hair and make department does good work as well making all of these big-name actors look the part of the President, talk show host, goth intellectual, nerdy scientist, or military personnel. Everything about this film is top-notch. I just didn’t find it all that funny.
I understand what McKay was going for, and I’m fine with that. There were a few things that gave me a chuckle, but in my press screening I was paying attention to others and they were laughing much more than I was. I love a good comedy or satire, but it takes a lot for me to laugh. In a way, this film made me sad more than it made me happy. Laughing is a precursor of happiness, and I wasn’t happy when I walked out of this film. I was sad and a little bit angry because of what it made me think of while watching it. The bottom line is people are just ignorant about some things and others just don’t care. This film showed that perfectly.
3 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen
Founder/EIC disappointment media