‘Don’t Look Up’ Review: A Great Satire On Netflix

Adam McKay’s new movie Don’t Look Up, released on Netflix NFLX on December 24, has jumped to the number 1 place of the streamer’s Top 10 Shows across many countries this Holiday weekend. With a star-studded cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett, Don’t Look Up is an effective satire reflecting the state of our society today.

Don’t Look Up begins like any other disaster movie. A young PhD student, Kate Dibiasky (played by Jennifer Lawrence) is monitoring the sky when she makes a discovery. She detects a comet. Excited by her findings, she calls her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and her peers. Together, they calculate the trajectory of the newly named Dibiasky comet. It is heading straight for our planet Earth. They only have six months until impact. Unlike traditional disaster movies, in Don’t Look Up, the words of warnings from Kate and Dr. Mindy about the impending apocalypse heading their way fall on death ears. The President of the United States (played by Meryl Streep) and her sycophantic son and Chief of Staff, Jason (played by Jonah Hill) are more interested in being re-elected. The media, represented by an upbeat morning show called The Daily Rip, hosted by Brie (played by Cate Blanchett) and Jack (played by Tyler Perry), are more interested in creating a buzz than passing on information. Humanity is doomed.

Adam McKay wrote this movie with climate change in mind. In the meantime, the pandemic happened, and everything he wrote more or less came true. The film echoes so much of what we have all lived through this past two years. The ineffective political class too concerned by their own careers to think clearly about what needs to be done to save lives. The denial of scientific evidence by those who have no scientific background. A society that is too slow to react to real danger because its attention is occupied by celebrity gossip and upbeat entertainment.

With its star-studded cast, the performances in Don’t Look Up are quite flawless. DiCaprio’s Dr. Mandy rises from the university professor nervous to speak in public to a confident man fronting the top magazines. Lawrence’s Kate is a confident bright young scientific whose message is quickly obscured by stupid memes of herself. Cate Blanchett is as always excellent as this over-qualified journalist, who seduces the nervous university professor with no remorse for his dotting wife. Ariana Grande’s role as superstar Riley Bina, who is more concerned about her troubled celebrity relationship with DJ Chello (played by Scott Mescudi) than in any planet-killing comet is also great. It’s Meryl Streep’s President Orlean with her son the Chief of Staff Jason that has echoes with reality. The film shows her rallying her supporters, wearing baseball caps, telling them to not believe scientists when they say a comet is coming to hit Earth.


But beyond politics, climate change and global pandemics, what Don’t Look Up made me think of is the ways in which we all face death, or the prospect of death and its impending threat—perhaps threat isn’t the right word, but rather its inevitability. We each have our ways of apprehending death. Some despair, some accept it, some try to find a way to fight it, conquer it, defeat it, sometimes to the detriment of others, while others ignore it preferring to be distracted by entertainment, others deny it, or think that this could only happen to someone else, and refuse to acknowledge it. How do you face death when you know it is coming? This is perhaps the only point which the film fails to portray effectively, too concerned with the absurdity of the politics that surround it.

The Tycoon Herald