Directed by Adam McKay
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance, Mark Rylance, and Timothée Chalamet
Two extremely polar reactions have happened to Don’t Look Up, with one group proclaiming it as one of the worst films of the year, and the other seeing it as a successful satire that expertly navigates its topics. In reality though, Don’t Look Up, is neither of those things really. It’s really more just fine, it has some hilarious moments and for the most navigates it’s topics successfully, but it’s also not top tier Adam McKay. Not every movie needs vitriol or extensive praise when it’s released, and that’s the camp Don’t Look Up falls into- a fine movie that has fine moments, and can be analyzed on what was successful and what wasn’t which left it just in the fine to good area.
Two low-level Astronomers, upon discovering that a meteor will strike earth in six months, go on a media tour to warn the world but find an unreceptive and unbelieving populace.
At it’s strongest, Don’t Look Up, utilizes it’s massive ensemble fairly well- theres a few outliers such as Himesh Patel that get forgotten about, but mostly the all star level cast is used well. Leo is fine, in a role that he could probably have done in his sleep, he’s perfectly believable as the humble and jittery scientist turned celebrity in our always looking for a hero society. Jennifer Lawrence showcased her skills as an actress once again, and really played the part perfectly- her exchanges with every actor in the strongest in the film. While Rob Morgan in my opinion stole the spotlight as one of the bigger roles of the film, his character was the right mesh of comedy and dramatics that he felt very much like any previous successful Adam McKay characters of past films. A pair of smaller roles also made sure to steal the limelight every time they were given the opportunity, both Chalamet and Hill were rock solid, and had some of the more memorable people and moments of the entire film.
The script is where it was the most mixed, and left it at fine for me. There are moments that are so well handled and come off as strong satire. Things that had me chuckling at just how stupid and yet accurate it’s portrayal of society is as a whole, especially as we’ve been going through the Covid-19 Pandemic and lots of what McKay pokes fun at in his disaster film has been as identical as looking at oneself in the mirror- the satire was so accurate it nearly hurt under the laughter. Yet in the same breath, the film also felt like a bad SNL sketch as many others have said- the jokes became predictable, and one could see where the humor was headed before the joke even landed. It’s as if McKay struggled more than he has in the past to balance his messaging with being nuanced, as we advanced the film continuously got stuck in being repetitive and far too on the nose. Nonsensical plot points were added just to continuously pump the message through, to the point that the satire blurred into parody. The Strangelove-esque finish was perfect and the credits scene was well worth the time and gave the film a satisfying end atleast.
On a technical basis, it was not very good or just unspectacular. Some of the most questionable editing decisions I’ve seen this year, we’d cut from one mood and scene to a completely other type of mood without a breath leaving the audience disjointed and confused at the poor transition. The score didn‘t compliment what was happening on the screen at all, and the cinematography was just fine. None of the technical elements were there to help with the films overall quality, rather it deterred me from putting this in the very good area and rather just inspired this to be fine.
In the end, Don’t Look Up, should not be near as polarizing as it is. There’s good things, there’s bad things, and there’s a lot in between. I think in a few years time it can be looked back by a larger population and appreciated for what it was attempting to say, but for now this one is gonna be mixed for the viewer and I think everyone needs to check it out because this one is gonna have a different reaction for every viewer even more than most movies.