Don’t Look Up is a laugh-out-loud satire about real events that haven’t happened yet. It’s true but painfully so. It paints a portrait of a society gone mad and a world hurtling toward doom. In other words, it’s us right now.
Don’t Look Up is about a comet heading for Earth. But not really. It’s really about climate change and COVID and the 2016 election and Roe v. Wade and science and political corruption and media and greed. Written and directed by Adam McKay, the over-long movie is full of barbed jokes and hyper-real situations.
The scientists are Jennifer Lawrence as Ph.D. candidate Kate Dibiasky, Leonardo DiCaprio as her professor Dr. Mindy, and Rob Morgan as Dr. Oglethorpe from NASA. Kate discovers the comet. These three scientists confirm it’s headed for Earth and big enough to destroy the planet. They raise the alarm.
The political hack who lies to the American people (and they believe it) is President Orlean, played by Meryl Streep. Jonah Hill plays her loyal, drugged up son. Mark Rylance plays the tech billionaire who really runs the country. They convince a good portion of the population that the comet can be mined and will provide jobs. Their slogan is “Don’t Look Up.”
Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry represent the media as talk show hosts. They want to interview celebrities (like Ariana Grande) and poke fun at the two nervous scientists who sound a warning about the end of the world.
In this film, the tragedy caused by not heeding the obvious scientific truth only takes 6 months to play out. That’s enough time for the movie to make many points about greed, capitalism, politics, science, human stupidity, and self-delusion. There’s a good laugh at the end for a final touch of poetic justice.
Overall, this film is begging us to wake up, look up, and act on reality instead of swallowing lies. There’s nothing subtle about it. It hits you right in the kisser with every point it makes. Can it cause a change in society? Can it make everyone look up and deal with the truth? I have my doubts.