I’ve seen some negative reactions to Don’t Look Up—complaints that it is too despairing for its own good.
They say it’s too dark. It’s too depressing. Haters are moaning that writer-director Adam McKay repeatedly hits his audience over the head with his “the planet is dying” message.
Uh, yeah, he is—and amen to that. This is the truest, most on-point movie I saw in 2021. McKay gets sinister in Don’t Look Up, and I, for one, am glad somebody is being appropriately nasty in pointing out how absolutely moronic humans have become in the new millennium. Sorry, folks: We are fucking up big time; McKay knows it; and he’s pulling no punches.
This is the darkest of dark comedies, and it covers many topics, including the continued decimation of our planet, our over-reliance on tech, our soul-killing obsession with social media, and the crazy space-race programs created by billionaire men. McKay’s brutal satire takes no prisoners, eviscerates political extremists and lemmings, and basically says we are all fucked if we continue on this current course—with or without an apocalyptic comet hurtling toward Earth.
The fictional comet in Don’t Look Up is on a direct path to hit Earth in six months, discovered by a college student (Jennifer Lawrence) and her professor (Leonardo DiCaprio), and verified by the head of planetary defense (Rob Morgan). With all of their data, pictures and science, an egomaniac president (Meryl Streep) is far too preoccupied by her latest Supreme Court nominee’s troublesome background and upcoming midterms to be concerned about the end of the world. This isn’t just satire; this is practically a documentary.
The comet symbolizes many things going wrong in the world right now, including Trumpism, COVID-19, global warming and tech obsession. Yes, the film is a bit heavy-handed, but necessary.
Don’t Look Up, is also really funny, thanks to a killer cast.
The supporting cast includes Mark Rylance as a hilarious hybrid of the tech billionaires running the planet, Jonah Hill as the president’s son and chief of staff, and Ron Perlman as a commander pilot with a bad social filter.
DiCaprio is his typical genius self, playing against type as a nebbish nerd who suddenly has a spotlight shining on him. He grabs the opportunity and mines it for many laughs. Lawrence is equally funny as the downbeat comet-discoverer who can’t believe the ignorance she is beholding. Morgan is droll yet hilarious while portraying a man who has grown a bit weary of nonsense and red tape.
This movie is devoid of hope. There is no optimism in Don’t Look Up. Yes, it deserves comparison to Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, because it pulls laughs out of the fact that the human race is on a crash course with destruction. In Don’t Look Up, the technology has multiplied and advanced, but the message is the same as it was when Slim Pickens rode that bomb to the doomed ground in Strangelove: Humans are messing up big-time, in a manner that is so egregious you just have to laugh at it … to prevent yourself from going insane.
Don’t Look Up is now streaming on Netflix.