From its mentally arresting premise, one is hyped for one hell of a comic experience, but what follows is a flat plot that occasionally steers off course. The opening act has several scenes containing humor, dark and light. Right from when someone sells snacks that are meant to be free in the white house or when president Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep), who is the female version of Trump, tell our protagonists Randal Mindy(Leonardo Dicaprio) and Kate Dabiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) to “sit tight and access”, after receiving the news of a comet 9 km wide, NASA terms a planet killer is heading for the earth in less than six months.
After receiving negligence from the oval office, the two Michigan astronomists approach the media to whistle-blow the urgency of the dilemma. And right there, the little comedy in the movie is wholly depleted that the film becomes so dark.
A group of critics may argue the difficulty of integrating comedy into such a severe plotline. However, considering the success of Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg’s ‘This is the end’ (2013) proves a dark comedy with apocalyptic themes is executable to cinematic delight provided good scriptwriting is involved.
Given Adam Mckay’s pedigree as a filmmaker and the stellar talent on his hands ranging from Jonah Hill, Rob Morgan, Timothee Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Chirs Evans, and more. It is disappointing that these big names are underutilized in their respective roles and subplots. That Leonardo’s consistent panic outbursts and Lawrence’s meme moment complemented with her overall charm are forced to carry the film’s watch appeal.
The film is not funny, nor is it memorably dramatic to satiate any emotional response regarding climate change and apocalypse curiosity. Just as the president scoffs, “you know how much ‘the world is ending’ meetings we’ve had over the years”. The same goes here. ‘Don’t l=Look u=Up’ is just another entry into the long list of doomsday movies. Regardless will inevitably gain nods from the academy for exceptional acting performance by its lead actors.
Although this comet driven film is a complete miss, it does not discredit Adam Mckay Pedigree as a satire director. His filmography proves he can blend comedy with social commentary, but he doesn’t pull it off here.
‘Don’t Look Up’s dramatic climax within its 2hour run time attempts to abridge every political division facing the world presently. From COVID-19 opinions, vaccination beliefs, racial & gender diversity standings to climate change. Randal Mindy(Leonardo Di Caprio), after being caught in the celebrity scientist quo, has a breakdown on air, lamenting:
“Sometimes, we need to just be able to say things to one another, we need to be able to hear things. If we can’t all agree at the bare minimum that a giant comet the size of mount Everest hurtling its way towards planet earth is not a good thing, then what the hell happened to us? I mean, my God, how do we even talk to each other, what have we done to ourselves, how do we fix it? We should’ve deflected this comet when we had the chance, but we didn’t do it, I don’t know why we didn’t do it […] I’m sure people aren’t even going to listen to what I just said because they have their own political ideology, but I assure you, I am not on one side or the other, I’m just telling you the truth!”
His loud rant is a wake-up call to a world that is too distracted to focus, too blind to see, too divided to discuss, too proud to care.
Despite an ineffective comedy, a wasted stellar cast, and an immemorable drama, the real disappointment is not a failed attempt to make a solid blockbuster. Is the fact that the issues; [climate change, untransparent media, government dismissal of logical counsel, global divisions] this film explores are factual.
But unlike this Netflix film, where the world is either looking up or down, here, in our world, we are doing neither.