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Don’t Look Up

Check your brain at the door and this star-studded disaster movie will happily take you for a ride.

It’s hard to know if the parade of star performances facilitates the extravagant plot of Don’t Look Up or gets in the way.

Suffice to say, there’s a lot going on in Adam McKay’s new satire, but it’s also lots of fun provided you don’t take it all too seriously. One minor point… it sort of asks you to take it seriously, too.

When astronomers Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo di Caprio) stumble onto a 10km wide comet on track to collide with Earth in just six months, not many believe them. Certainly not the populist President (Meryl Streep), constantly worried about her image, nor her son and Chief of Staff (Jonah Hill), who adopt a “wait and assess” strategy.

In despair the two turn -foolishly- to the media where morning TV hosts (Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry) keep the conversation light with punchlines and asides, leaving our heroes to resemble paranoid lunatics. But a scandal closer to home will see the President latch onto the cause in the hope of an heroic act of red, white and blue, prompting the comet to become a craze sweeping the planet. Cue the fake news, social media and anti-vaxxers cometers….

McKay’s rollercoaster script entails romances of convenience, end-of-days declarations, interfering billionaires, and clashes of politics and religion. That leaves plenty of room for star cameos including Ariana Grande (whose comet pop song is hilariously scary), Ron Perlmann as a gung-ho astronaut, Timothée Chalamet as a lovelorn teen, Mark Rylance as a visionary entrepreneur, Rob Morgan as a scientist and more.

While Streep’s over-the-top President (no prizes for guessing her inspiration) and Blanchett’s cheesy morning host are delicious fun, it is Di Caprio’s seething calm that works as the spine of the film. It’s a bit unfortunate a sub-plot with Blanchett gets in the way of the logic we are asked to follow, and the film is a tad too long.

The other question is whether the Armageddon on the screen is more catastrophic, more credible, than one going on for real, just beyond our screens. But maybe while we all battle a once-in-a-100 year pandemic it’s possible to lose ourselves and laugh at the impending doom Hollywood has dreamt up?

Don’t Look Up screens Friday December 24 on Netflix.

5 Responses

  1. This is one of those times I should have watched the movie first before making my previous comment. The impression I get is that viewer opinions are divided about this movie which I guess is the theme, it certainly is more for American audiences with vacuous characters like Chief of Staff and son of POTUS (Streep) Jason Orlean, who played his part like a Saturday Night Live sketch comedy, as did most of the cast right up to the must see final scene during end credits.
    The plot of mass denial does seem to be paralleling early reactions to COVID and maybe also climate change, but generally I believe it is showcasing the influencer culture so dominant nowadays. The digs at the POTUS was also hard to ignore as was the eccentric billionaire technocrat (Mark Rylance), take your pick which billionaire he portrays. This is a genuine Netflix production which would disappear to DVD without DiCaprio and Lawrence in starring roles. Cate was almost unrecognizable on The Daily Rip show.

  2. Another Netflix movie that potentially could have been made into a nice TV mini-series? (maybe), still with Leo and Meryl starring I suppose it couldn’t have be anything but a movie really, especially if Netflix are after some cinema credibility.

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