Don't Look Up

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ based on 1 review.

tl;dr: Poignant, horrifying, funny, balanced, and utterly depressing. But also great.


Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

It's hard watching a satire of a crisis that you are living through. On the one hand, I thought the acting and script, the comedy and the direction, it was all deeply entertaining and, at times, masterful. There is very little that I would meaningfully critique about Don't Look Up, and I felt it picked its punches very well. Obviously, at the core, this is a cautionary tale about how our species is sleepwalking into ecological and planetary ruin, despite ample warning, and this message is definitely done justice. I think the fact that you now often see people lifting screenshots from the film and pairing them with newspaper headlines about Scientists X or IPCC reports or anything of a similar ilk speaks volumes as to how well it summarised (and, to a lesser degree, predicted) the way humanity is reacting to the ongoing climate crisis. But the film doesn't stop there; it also deftly skewers the neo-fascism brought about by Trump, BoJo, and their peers; the way the media has become trapped chasing their own tails whilst losing sight of the bigger picture; the problems inherent in trusting the motives of capitalist billionaires over scientists or putting lucky "geniuses" on pedestals they likely don't deserve; and the growing weaponisation of emotion over fact in the general public discourse. It's all bleak and fascinating; harrowing and hilarious.

And amongst all of this excellent storytelling, the film manages to deliver little moments that are just fun. It slightly has to play this balancing act, otherwise anyone with even a smidgeon of understanding of the current state of the world would just sink further and further into a deep depression, but it does so well nonetheless. Whether it's Kate's recurring fixation on the General that swindles them out of money at the start of the film; Yule's surprising Christianity; the bag-over-the-head gag; or just any of the consistent jabs at celebrity culture, the jokes land well and give the world a surprising level of depth. Surreal depth, sure, but depth nevertheless. Add on top of this, you have a stellar cast providing some excellent performances (it's great to see Lawrence back; Leo is on top form in a slightly unusual role for him; and Streep, Blanchett, and Chalamet all clearly have so much fun in their roles that they're just riveting to watch) that help flesh out a surprisingly layered plot. Randall grows into (and is corrupted by) his new fame. Kate breaks down. Randall's family are actually interesting. Even Ariana Grande's character has more to her than was necessary, whilst Rob Morgan's competent NASA lead actually helps balance out the absurdity over Streep and Jonah Hill's inept presidency.

If I were to critique anything, it's perhaps that some of the jokes were a little lazy (though with a character like Trump, it's hard not to just literally repeat things he's said as a gag; the man is a walking parody of himself). I'm also surprised that they dedicated the credits to set up a(n admittedly) funny final punchline around the "rich people escape to another world" trope, as opposed to a Big Short style expose of the film's core theme based on actual reality. The film is not subtle about the climate crisis, but I think it would have served the central message to just run actual footage of the things it was satirising at the end, to just be absolutely clear that we're in a mess and we need to act now. And then, y'know, end on a callback gag about the President's oddly specific and unusual death prophecy 😂

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