Following the film’s release on Netflix, much has already been written about it, both good and bad. With the bad, it seems to be that critics are focusing on the comedy, saying it’s too ‘on the nose’. With the good, many are saying that this is less a satirical comedy and more a documentary of the times in which we find ourselves.
Thus the comedy gets lost amidst the message… which is that we have the ways and means to fix our planet, and yet we somehow manage to mess it up, time and again. Mostly due to the inherent greed of humans and the capitalist desires of those in power for profit above people.
But to backtrack… If you have no idea what I’m talking about let’s set the scene. Following The Big Short (2015) which looked at the banking crisis, Vice (2018) which examined Dick Cheney’s rise to power and now Don’t Look Up (2021), which tackles climate change, director Adam McKay has given us, in recent years, a trilogy of incredibly accomplished (and mostly satirical) movies which skewer their subject matter in a way that’s deeply relevant to the maddening and exasperating times in which we find ourselves.
Don’t Look Up tells the story of two scientists (played by Leo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) who discover a planet-killing asteroid heading straight for earth. In terms of timeline, humanity has a mere six months to live. They try and tell the US President (Meryl Streep) and get largely ignored. They turn to the media and go on a talk show (hosts: Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry) and find they also get nowhere. And so it goes.
Ultimately, this movie is clear in its messaging, and it’s one you could equally apply to any given number of topics in the last few years. You shout WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! at people and they stick their fingers in their ears and go about their day. It’s enough to make even the most calm of us mad as hell, and not want to take it anymore.
And in a moment where art imitates life and life imitates art (or something along those lines) many critics either missed the point of the movie or, perhaps more accurately realised they were part of the problem and therefore trashed it, nitpicking aspects which were not that important, and ignoring the actual message.
Funny how that happens.
When the dust settles it will be interesting to see if critics and the mainstream media reassess this movie. Message aside, it’s funny, entertaining, and features some superb performances, particularly from Leo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Mark Rylance.
And if you need to sell people on it, tell them it’s like In The Loop (2009) meets Deep Impact (1998), but, you know, for real.