• Shah Shahid

Review: Don’t Look Up Is A Satire About Subjects That Are Still Too Prevalent To Be Laughing At

Don’t Look Up is the latest Netflix original from renowned director, Adam McKay. With a massive all-star cast, McKay continues his comedic look at real-world subject matter after movies like The Big Short and Vice. Although, Don’t Look Up doesn’t hold up to the standards of those earlier films. Even crossing the line into largely being unfunny and not entirely accomplishing what it thinks its aim was. Check out my Don’t Look Up review to join in on the discourse surrounding this movie.

Don’t Look Up Sounds Incredible On Paper

Picture credit: Netflix.

When conceptualized, Don’t Look Up was one of the year’s most anticipated movies ever. A cast that is any filmmaker's dream, with a hilarious director working with one of the biggest streamers for the first time was to be a sure shot for success. Even the trailer looked brilliant. The idea is pretty hilarious. Two scientists (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) discover a meteor headed to Earth, ensuring its destruction. When notifying the authorities, the reactions are less than what they anticipate. Meeting with the President of the United States (Meryl Streep), the knowledge of impending global doom is met with a dismissive tone.

This kickstarts a pattern of behaviour by everyone around them, of aloof, casual and almost willfully ignorant reactions. Despite raising the klaxon trying to warn the world, the two scientists are met with derision, ridicule, threats and just absolute non-belief. It’s this idea of trying to go on with your lives in the face of global destruction that frustrates and drives the two scientists crazy in their different ways.

How Don’t Look Up Is An Obvious Commentary

Picture credit: Netflix.

Netflix’s Don’t Look Up is an obvious commentary on the concepts of climate change and environmental issues that we as a society are failing to take seriously. The world just carries on, knowing that everything will be gone, mirrors the failure of many nations to act on pollution, global warming and other impacts to our environment. The frustration felt by DiCaprio and Lawrence’s characters are probably what most environmentalists and activist feel seeing the inaction of major global governments to curb all of this. And while it’s definitely an allegory, it sometimes feels like too much.

Don’t Look Up almost hits us over the head with its metaphors and analogies. It’s not subtle. And given how recently many of these types of behaviours happened in real life, it also feels like it’s too soon to laugh at this.

Why Don’t Look Up’s Satire Might Have Been Too Soon

Picture credit: Netflix.

Many in the world very much feel the frustration and dismissive reactions of these major world-altering events happening in our society. DiCaprio and Lawrence are essentially playing characters who are the archetypes of those people. So it’s hard to laugh at their experiences, given that their journeys feel all too real to many audience members. But that’s where most of the comedy is coming from; the ridiculousness that they are met with. And from the outside, crazy characters combined with straight characters are the source of traditional formulaic comedy. One of the character types is the one who is too out there, while the other is the ‘normal’ one, reacting to the craziness. But the comedy usually hinges on audiences being able to relate to the comedic character, forgiving their outrageousness.

But given that many audience members can relate to the straight characters here, it might be too difficult to laugh at them, or even with them. Especially when the subject matter is a real-world problem that they still have to deal with after the movie ends. It provides less escapism and more of a mirror to how society currently is. Which, for a comedy, doesn’t have the impact McKay thought it would.

The Don’t Look Up Review Isn’t All Bad

Picture credit: Netflix.

Not to say that Don’t Look Up isn’t a totally watchable movie. The cast and performances are amazing. The lone jokes and comedy are totally enjoyable when seen as disconnected bits from the main story. Jonah Hill as the President’s son-slash-Chief of Staff stands out as the funniest character. But mostly because these jokes are just random one-liners not connected to the plot. Streep is perfect as the conniving President. Lawrence and DiCaprio put in wonderful performances that run the range from hilarious to heartbreaking. Timothy Chalamet is sweet in a small role. Cate Blanchett is a lot of fun as a Fox News-like news anchor.

Don’t Look Up is a fun movie when you watch it as a casual comedy with a powerful cast telling a ridiculous story. However, things start falling apart when you see the movie as a commentary or satire to real-world events. Those events feel too close to home to be ridiculed at this time. At least, in my opinion, which could be totally wrong. Check it out yourself, and let me know.

Don’t Look Up is now streaming on Netflix.

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