After what felt like a year-long wait, Don’t Look Up has arrived. Adam McKay’s existential flick explores a nihilistic take on today’s socio-political reality. While it is an entertaining look at precise comedic delivery, what remains when the laughs go away?
The last time McKay graced the world with his artistic presence was with the awards rebel Vice. Many regard it as fairly favorable as it managed to snatch a few awards during its run. Many can agree that McKay’s comedic taste is what elevates his projects. Considering his features tend to lack in story, they manage to remain consistent in their audience appeal. One could say he knocks it out of the park again with his most recent feature.
Don’t Look Up follows two astronomers, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Ph.D. candidate Dr. Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), as they navigate a media tour to warn the masses of an approaching comet that will destroy the planet. It takes various twists and turns as it both criticizes the past four years of U.S. politics and the way human interaction has shifted thanks to social media. Dr. Mindy and Dr. Dibiasky must transform from low-level astronomers into overnight media sensations to garner the attention of those quick to ignore impending doom for a cat meme or the most recent celebrity scandal.
McKay takes a dig at everything. Nothing and no one is safe in this film, whether it’s a politician or the hosts of your favorite live news broadcast. Various film critics circles are already sharing the love for the film due to its star-studded cast. The ensemble is truly what makes the film. From the likes of Jonah Hill to Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Chris Evans, Cate Blanchett, Kid Cudi, Meryl Streep, and so much more, it’s no wonder people are adoring this film. It does exactly what McKay is criticizing in his satire.
The film is neatly packaged with celebrity value to make a blatant criticism of the political system within the United States. It does not pick and choose sides. It takes a swing at both the Democratic and Republican parties, though conservatives will be the ones to come out the most offended from a viewing, most likely. Apart from politics, McKay also jabs at the likes of Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs through Mark Rylance as Peter Isherwell. He is the big tech businessman who immediately sucks up all authority as soon as he walks into the room.
Nothing in this film is subtle. McKay and David Sirota’s screenplay holds no cards behind its back. Everything is laid out on the table for easy consumption. While it is heavy-handed with its satire, it is also simple and straight to the point. The dialogue is fast-paced and oftentimes witty, though at moments few actors knew how to deliver. There were even various moments where the tone of the film shifts into more serious territory. That is when the film truly shined.
Unfortunately, McKay and Sirota remain shy and hide behind shallow and often silly humor. Despite this, many will very much come to enjoy and perhaps even love this film. There are numerous memorable performances, with each actor getting their moment to shine. It is truly an existential take on the consumption of mindless fanfare to drown out collective sorrow. It is also a mindful look at humanity’s failure to gain cumulative emotional maturity and empathy. Ultimately, it is a comedy that desires praise for patting itself on the back for being self-aware of the long-standing imperial complex of the United States. – Josie Meléndez
Don’t Look Up will be available on Netflix on December 24, 2021.
The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, and many more.