Don’t Look Up is an apocalyptic black comedy written, produced, and directed by Adam McKay. It tells the story of two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization. The impact event is an allegory for climate change, and the film is a satire of government, political, and media indifference to the climate crisis. Since this movie features a Stella ensemble cast, I was hyped to see it. Don’t Lookup turned out to be brilliantly done as well as a great eye-opener.
Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), a Michigan State University astronomy Ph.D. candidate, discovers a previously unknown comet. Her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), confirms that it will collide with the Earth in approximately six months and change. The comet is large enough to cause the extinction of our planet. NASA confirms their findings causing their Planetary Defense Coordination Office head, Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), to accompany Kate and Dr. Mindy to Washington, DC so they can present their findings to the White House. The three are met with apathy from President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her son, who is also the Chief of Staff, Jason Orlean (Jonah Hill).
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Because it appears the White House rejected them, Dr. Oglethorpe urges Kate and Dr. Mindy to leak the news of their finding to the media. The two decide to tell all to the public on the Daily Rip morning talk show. When hosts Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) and Brie Evantee (Cate Blanchett) treat the topic frivolously, Kate loses her composure and rants about the threat, prompting widespread online mockery while Dr. Mindy receives public approval for his appearance. Actual news about the comet’s threat receives little public attention and the threat is denied by President Orlean’s Director of NASA, a top donor to POTUS with no background in astronomy. When President Orlean is involved in a sex scandal with her Supreme Court nominee, she diverts attention by confirming the coming threat of our demise and announcing a project to strike and divert the comet, using nuclear weapons.
The mission successfully launches, but President Orlean abruptly aborts it when Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance), the billionaire CEO of tech company BASH and another top donor, discovers that the comet contains trillions of dollars worth of rare-earth elements. The White House agrees to commercially exploit the comet by fragmenting and recovering it from the ocean, using technology proposed by BASH, in a scheme that has not undergone peer review or been properly tested. The White House sidelines Kate and Dr. Oglethorpe, while hiring Dr. Mindy as the National Science Advisor. Kate tries to mobilize public opposition to the scheme but gives up under threat from the president’s administration. Dr. Mindy becomes a prominent voice advocating for the comet’s commercial opportunities and begins an affair with Brie. World opinion is divided among those who decry alarmism and believe that mining a destroyed comet will create jobs and those who deny that the comet even exists. Kate returns home to an unwelcoming Illinois.
Don’t Look Up had several funny moments but its dark theme didn’t leave too much room for laughter. The movie marks our greed, ignorance, prejudices, and division. Half the planet believes the government and half do not. While Earth is still in danger of extinction, the greedy and the rich are still in charge, so the ultimate goal is getting richer. The movie shows how easy it is to divide the nation, causing people to make stupid decisions. Sometimes I think some people feel better when they’re doing wrong and spewing profanity, violence, and nasty thoughts, all while shouting and patting themselves on the back for a job well done. Don’t Look Up played on Trump, who started the division in the United States, the big lie, and what happens when greed is in charge. I realize everyone can’t think alike but some things are obvious. A good principle to live by is: if your decisions are hurting people, don’t do it! I give Don’t Look Up 8.5 because it’s a real eye-opener. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 56% of 276 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.30/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Don’t Look Up aims too high for its scattershot barbs to consistently land, but Adam McKay’s star-studded satire hits its target of collective denial square on.” If you watch Don’t Look Up, make sure you wait for all the credits to roll, there’s an additional scene at the end of the movie. I liked it very much – Check It Out!
[DON’T LOOKUP is Oscar-nominated at the 94th Academy Awards for Best: Picture, Film Editing, Original Score, and Writing: Original screenplay — Totaling 4 Oscar Nominations]