Among the sea of Netflix original content, there has been a wide range of movies of varying quality but one of the platform’s last films of 2021, “Don’t Look Up,” was particularly memorable. This fun two-hour cynical comedy asked the question, "What if there was a planet-killing comet on course to destroy Earth?" The film’s response to this question is satirical in its answer with many parallels to politics, the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrity conflicts and other current issues.
The plot is simple: a comet is hurling itself toward Earth while Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Dr. Randall Mindy, and Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Ph.D. candidate student Kate Dibiasky, try to warn the world about the impending doom that awaits everyone in the next six months and 14 days. This is a great premise for an action-adventure movie, much like “Armageddon” (1998).
This film has many twists and turns. When I watched the film, it subverted my expectations, every turn a new surprise.
“Don’t Look Up” had plenty of comments and critiques to make about politics, fame, corporations and society as a whole. For example, early on in the film Dr. Mindy and Kate try to warn the president of the United States — played by Meryl Streep — about everyone’s imminent doom. The president and her cabinet refuse to listen until they’ve had “their” scientists review the numbers. Even when Dr. Mindy and Kate go to the news after speaking with the president, they are still not taken seriously because the government wants to keep things “light-hearted.”
One of the film’s strongest qualities is its all-star cast, and the main cast’s performances were all more than perfect. This is what carries the film at its lowest points. Each character had what felt like a genuine connection to one other, whether that was good or bad.
For fans of DiCaprio’s work, he is able to take a break from his more serious roles and play a nerd who doesn’t really know how to speak out for himself. Cate Blanchett as Brie Evantee paired with DiCaprio’s Dr. Mindy was great — their relationship throughout the film was very entertaining to watch develop, to say the least.
Other great performances are seen from Lawrence, Streep, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance and many more. Guest appearances from Ariana Grande, Chris Evans and a handful of others also make this film stand out.
My main problem with the film was its pacing. I thought we had arrived at the end many times before we did. Still, I can easily look past this for the obvious effort that the cast put into the movie. Every time I noticed the film slowing down, the characters would pick it back up and move the film forward.
Overall, this is quite an enjoyable movie with an excellent cast and simple premise. It’s cynical with a clear opinion of the last few years but still won’t make you feel bad. I would definitely recommend the watch.
Maxwell Minty McGrael is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MintyMcGrael
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