Don’t Look Up (2021)

Don’t Look Up
Director: Adam McKay
Writer: Adam McKay, David Sirota
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Evans
Seen on: 14.5.2022

Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is an astronomer who works on her PhD under the supervision of Randall Mindy (Leonard DiCaprio). One night, Kate makes a harrowing discovery: there is a life-destroying comet heading straight for earth. Kate and Randall do everything to make the world aware of this fact, but things don’t go exactly as they thought they would.

I was debating with myself whether I wanted to see this film. From all I had heard about it, I was pretty sure that it would be a film that drops its good points into a sea of smugness. Ultimately, though, my curiosity got the better of me and I can now definitively say that my suspicions about it were confirmed.

The film poster showing the main characters of the film, all looking up.

Don’t Look Up is obviously a metaphor about how we deal with climate change: an extinction level event is coming towards us (in fact, it is already here) and scientists have been talking about it for literal decades, but that doesn’t mean that the people in charge are doing anything about it – out of political concerns and greed. The same happens to Kate and Randall here.

The problem is: the film consists entirely of the kind of conclusions a barely informed person who sees the injustice and catastrophe around them will come to in about five minutes. There is no critical analysis that goes beyond that. But successful satire needs a deep understanding of what it satirizes, and not just cheap shots about how everybody is uninterested and superficial. (That’s generally a premise I reject. Most people I meet and talk with are deeply worried about the state of the world. The problem is how to translate this worry into (meaningful) action, especially when you’re struggling to just get through your own life.)

President Orlean (Meryl Streep) talking to her Chief of Staff Jason Orlean (Jonah Hill) as Randall (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Kate (Jennifer Lawrence) trail behind them.

Don’t Look Up is content with stating the obvious and then withdrawing into fatalism, mistaking it for depth. But fatalism is an easy out, and it leaves the film without any perspective that things could actually be different. Not every piece of criticism needs to come with a ready-made solution. The problem is that Don’t Look Up suggests that there is no solution, we should all just give up now because nothing we will ever do will have any effect on anything. And hell the fuck no. I refuse.

It is not just on that level that the film is a mess. The cast is squandered for the most part, and the film is too flat for the jokes to actually land. If the film wanted to make me angry at the state of the world, it definitely failed. It just made me angry at the filmmakers for obviously thinking that they’re better than everybody else around them.

Kate (Jennifer Lawrence) looking very worried in a room filled with red light.

Summarizing: just pretends to have anything meaningful to say.

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