An astronomer (Leonardo DiCaprio) and PhD candidate (Jennifer Lawrence) from Michigan State University discover a meteor is hurdling toward Earth. The planet has just over six months until total destruction. It’s not supposed to be funny, but director Adam McKay brings us a satirical look at our cultural subservience.
Framed as a narrative on climate change, Don’t Look Up offers additional connections as we struggle to surface on top of a pandemic. Easily distracted by headlines and led by influencers, we keep our heads down in our devices, feeding on algorithms served up with a side of snark. What’s our response to the end of the world? Business, as usual.
This film houses an A-list collective of stars. Meryl Streep is a familiar slogan-toting (and cigarette smoking), gaslighting President. Jonah Hill plays her son and Chief of Staff, quick-witted and spouting constant ‘dope’ lines. Yes, I laughed. And, I took notes – what was skater Timothee Chalamet’s Twitch handle?
Toss in shots at the media with Tyler Perry and Kate Blanchett as co-anchors of a morning show. Then there’s a TMZ-esque tabloid manipulating the headlines and producing memes. Of course, the lead story is never about the meteor. Everyone wants to hear about pop star Riley Bina (Arianna Grande) and her relationship with DJ Chello (Kid Cudi). I’ll admit their song is pretty catchy.
Throw in tech billionaire Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance) to tell us what we want…what we really, really want. (Hint: we don’t want this).
There is little character depth and the plot skims the surfaces of way too many ideas. The editing is very polluted. The penultimate scene around the dinner table is the best part. Don’t Look Up is just a generalized statement on our appetite for destruction, which leaves a bad taste in my mouth.