Look Up!

December 30th, 2021

Look, I really enjoyed Don’t Look Up.

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Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence star in Don’t Look Up.

Look Up. That’s the message of Don’t Look Up.

Adam McKay’s latest masterpiece orbits around two astronomers who discover a giant comet heading to destroy earth. The movie features a — pardon me — star studded cast of A-list actors playing scientists, politicians and media darlings all falling somewhere between accepting the truth and, well, being Comet Deniers.

The fictional public’s reaction to impending doom is, “Ho hum, what’s going on with these pop stars or those philandering political figures.”

The astronomers — played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence — try to convince the president and her Chief of Staff son — played respectively by Meryl Streep and Jonah Hill — to take the impending extinction level event seriously. Mix in Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry as dopey morning “news” show hosts; Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi as pop culture icons; Timothée Chalamet as an Evangelical skate punk; and Mark Rylance as an almost unrecognizable (except for his voice) tech gajillionaire.

If you need to have a reference point, think of it as Seeking a Friend For the End of the World meets The Big Short. But that’s just to make things fit into a more tidy box, which the narrative doesn’t exactly do. This movie, full of dark humor, isn’t really a comedy or drama, satire or spoof. Choose your allegory; is it about Covid or Climate Change or just us? We’re all reflected on the screen.

The critics have pretty much hated it so far. But they’re just being critical. It seems they’re expecting one thing and being shown an entirely different thing that’s far better. Everyone I’ve spoken with since it began streaming on Netflix the day before Christmas has loved it.

I loved it too. And it’s not just because I taught at Michigan State University either. Oh, DiCaprio’s and Lawrence’s characters are from that mythical university in the middle of Michigan. They go back and forth from Lansing to D.C. trying to make people aware of what’s coming. Though I’ve never seen that Lansing before. Massachusetts mimicked Michigan for many of the more mundane location shots.

Writer/Director/Producer Adam McKay adds a lot of fun asides, including beautiful short clips of the natural world that also hangs in the balance (both in the movie and in real life). And there’s a hilarious running gag throughout the almost 2½-hour-long story. It all fits perfectly into the McKay universe including; Succession, Vice, SNL, and Booksmart.

The tagline says “BASED ON TRULY POSSIBLE EVENTS.” And you can just imagine it playing out that way in the real world. In the end, I feel like the movie’s about, yes, denying the severity of Climate Change and Covid. But it also explores the rift today between people who understand facts & science and those who choose to blatantly ignore them.

It’s literally and figuratively a stellar film. Do look up; you’ll be glad you did.


(Oh, and stick around through the closing credits.)

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