DON'T LOOK UP (NETFLIX) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: DON’T LOOK UP tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.
Clocking at nearly two-and-a-half hours, the latest self-penned, directorial effort from Adam McKay is ultimately a bloated, missing-the-mark attempt at satire comedy. Even a quarter of Hollywood’s best talents liked Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Jonah Hill can’t save the original Netflix comedy.
The end of the world premise stars Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky, an astronomy graduate student who discovered that a comet the size of Mt Everest will hit earth within a span of six months. Together with her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (DiCaprio), the duo presents their findings to the White House with the help of head of Planetary Defense, Dr. Oglethrope (Rob Morgan). But President Orlean (Streep) and her son, Chief of Staff, Jason (Hill) is not impressed and dismisses the threat straight out.
Oglethrope on the other hand is not giving things up and urges Dibiasky and Mindy to leak the news to the media hoping that someone will take the news seriously. When a tech billionaire, Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance) approaches Orlean with the intention of creating new jobs by mining valuable rare elements from the comet, the President hoping to improve her ratings and secure her second term readily accepts his offer not knowing that the consequences might be dire.
McKay continues its scattershot aim at current affairs beginning with housing, financial issues in The Big Shot to political events in Vice. And this time he is aiming for the sky. Literally. Instead of a razor-sharp, funny apocalyptic comedy, Don’t Look Up ends up trying too hard to be both provocative and entertaining at the same time. It’s like he is trying every second on screen to poke fun at things but none actually sticks on the wall. Boredom quickly comes to mind and that is a surprise from the man who brought you Anchorman and The Other Guys.
It’s pretty obvious that McKay is taking potshots at the incompetent Trump administration. The comparison is uncanny given that President Orlean is frequently disengaged from reality and science with nepotism comes to mind when her own son is part of the administration. An obvious wink at Ivana Trump. Still, Jonah Hill does a terrific job mimicking likely Trump Jr in this case. Even a five figure Birkin bag is thrown in as part of his gag.
Besides political, McKay indulges in some media mocking as well with Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry playing television hosts of The Daily Rip that never took the news of the comet as seriously as it should be. Tech gurus and billionaires are not spared either. You know those people that rather go to the Moon than saving mankind. The honor once again goes to Mark Rylance who plays yet another soft-spoken tech billionaire after Ready Player One.
You might be curious as to what in the end happen to Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence? To be fair, DiCaprio is decent playing the panic attack prone professor. His part is nothing too shining or impressive in this assembled comedy. Lawrence is serviceable as the hot headed Dibiasky and current Hollywood’s in-demand actor Timothee Chalamet appears in the last hour in a thankless role as Dibiasky’s love interest.
Don’t Look Up contains flashes of potential and laughs but it’s constantly outweighed by its ambitions. The only genuinely enjoyable part of this McKay comedy is the ridiculous mid-credits scene. Other than that, it’s a tremendous waste of a stellar cast.
Review by Linus Tee