Topping Netflix’s Top 10 shows this holiday season was Adam McKay’s new satirical film Don’t Look Up. As an inspiring metaphor for climate change, Don’t Look Up is a dark comedy full of highly-acclaimed actors and is “based on possibly true events.”
Similar to a satirical movie like Dr. Strangelove, Don’t Look Up has an interesting concept of disastrous satire. Two scientists (Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio) discover a comet heading straight towards Earth. That comet, predicted to be larger than what killed the dinosaurs, is set to cause an extinction level event in about six months. Despite their efforts to inform the public, no one — not even the President — believes them or tries to make an effort to try and stop it.
It’s an opportune time to release this film, based on what the world has gone through in the past two years: a pandemic, social injustice and lots of uncertainty.
The film is full of a star studded cast including Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Ariana Grande, Jonah Hill, Kid Cudi, Cate Blanchett and many more. The cast is definitely the best part of the film as every performance is phenomenal. With a cast so talented and acclaimed, it would be horrendous if their performances weren’t so phenomenal.
DiCaprio’s performance especially is one of the most remarkable; it’s not his best but certainly prodigious. There is one scene that consists of his character absolutely losing it on live television that leaves the audience in awe. It’s easy to tell that DiCaprio added his own personal connection to this film since he is a big advocate for climate change. This connection made his acting stick out amongst the others.
Mark Rylance, who plays tech billionaire Peter Isherwell, has an interesting take on his role. His character makes you feel uncomfortable more than often, which is what his character is scripted to do. Based on so many big CEOs today, he was one of the only characters that really encapsulated the satire of his role.
While the performances are great, some characters aren’t as well developed as other characters in the film. For example, Jonah Hill’s character as the president’s pretentious son can oftentimes be annoying. Ariana Grande’s character, popstar Riley Bina, whose breakup is more important than the comet, essentially is set to make fun of herself. Timothée Chalamet’s character adds a little bit of relief towards the end of the movie, but other than that his character has little to no purpose.
Since Don’t Look Up is a satire, most of its characters are made to represent someone in real time. Streep’s role as the president who is full of denial and questionable motives, is obviously rendered to be like former President Donald Trump. Peter Isherwell, the tech billionaire who has a strong grasp on the world, models the behaviors of several CEOs like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and many more of the like.
The character comparisons are exceedingly obvious, making the satire more fitting towards its goal. Because it’s so exceedingly obvious, it makes the audience more aware of the overall message that the film is trying to portray. The format is well laid out, which is considerably an accomplishment for the film.
The film’s overall message is more concerned with climate change rather than the entertainment factor. It pushes this message thoroughly throughout the film. It may seem redundant at times, but that’s basically the main purpose of the film. The plot is meant to be deep, while having some subtle comedy to lighten the blow.
The pacing is exceedingly fast and a little unsettling at times, all while cramming in several plot points. But the main joke remains persistent, which is basically the idiocy of the mass public. Some jokes land while some do not. With the film being a dark comedy, it can be hard for the movie to land jokes without remembering that the world is coming to an end.
The ending takes on a predictable yet dark ending to cap off the film. It’s more disappointing than depressing and doesn’t try to make it more subtle with any comedy. McKay wanted that ending to essentially be like a slap in the face.
Despite some flaws, the film is quite enjoyable and moderately hilarious with its satire and some special one-liners. It can be somewhat compared to a SNL skit just two hours long and with Oscar-winning actors. Overall, Don’t Look Up is a great idea on paper but seemingly proceeds to not have the greatest execution it could have had.