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  Don't Look Up Nobody's Ready For Doomsday
Year: 2021
Director: Adam McKay
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothee Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Chiklis, Paul Guilfoyle, Robert Joy
Genre: Comedy, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is an astronomer who one night is taking photographs of the sky at the observatory in Michigan where she studies, when she notices something new, an object that has been travelling through space and may be closer than it looks. She calls her colleagues, and her boss, Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), starts to work out the trajectory of the new comet as they celebrate, but oh dear, what's this? His calculations add up to something very concerning, even distressing. He contacts the United States Government to warn them of an oncoming, terrible catastrophe: an extinction level event.

For some reason disaster movies about climate change are not taken very seriously, probably because most of them have come across as kind of ridiculous; just try and examine the science behind The Day After Tomorrow or Geostorm and you'll be wasting your time. This is one reason Don't Look Up was somewhat frustrating, but also why it was not a documentary, as climate change was not going to destroy humanity in one sudden disaster, it was going to take decades unless we got our act together and stopped ignoring the problems we were creating for the planet. But who wants to watch a movie about that? Doesn't sound fun, does it?

Hence writer and director Adam McKay took his trickster sensibility and applied it to a comedy version of impending doom, which as it turned out resulted in its critics complaining that for humour, it wasn't very funny. There were jokes in it, however, married to a smartass sensibility that many found offputting, yet by positioning his film as the smartest one in the room, he definitely made many take notice, and deflected the disdain for its quality of storytelling with a more pressing worry. That was, if you dismissed it as flim-flam, you were just as bad as the morons who were in charge in the fiction and caused unimaginable damage with their ignorance.

Those morons were a combination of politicians and business interests, including the media, plus the ordinary, non-rich folk who supported them, rendering the experience of seeing this like a combination between Deep Impact, Network and Idiocracy. When Randall and Kate try to persuade the people they encounter that there is a world-ending asteroid heading right this way and we still have a small amount of time to stop it, they are met with the aggressive self-interest of the authorities, corporations and people on the street alike. Believing they must raise their voices to hysterical levels to be heard above the trivial din on social media, they end up lampooned as crass memes at best, and, yes, ignored at worst, getting absolutely nowhere.

Those at the top, including President Meryl Streep and billionaire tech boss/supposed genius Mark Rylance, see nothing in their lives but profit and how to get it, with Rylance offering a dig at the cost of phone materials. However, a more pointed dig could have been aimed at big oil, and while the tech boss is representative of any big business that makes money out of enormously damaging practices, McKay wrote him as too specific to register that satirical angle. Similarly, the vapid morning TV chat show led by man-hungry Cate Blanchett and insistently pleasant Tyler Perry could have better skewered the News Corp global media empire, which has been instrumental in spreading disinformation and denial of climate change, and indeed politicising it needlessly on outlets like Fox News or Sky or the newspapers they own (and Netflix, this movie's producers, aren't immune to peddling bullshit either). Nevertheless, with all those caveats in mind, and the oddly complacent ending where characters simply accepted the world is populated by idiots and we're all gonna die anyway, to see the subject presented so broadly and refusing nuance was sobering. And, no, that's not funny. Music by Nicholas Britell.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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