Don't Look Up Movie Review
by Sabrina Michelena
Adam McKay is known for being a highly praised comedic director. He’s directed movies such as the ridiculous Step Brothers that won a ASCAP Film and Television Music Award and a Golden Trailer award; Anchorman which won a BMI Film Award and is still considered one of the funniest movies of the 21st Century; and the dramatic Vice which won lead Christian Bale a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice Movie Award For Best Actor. It’s safe to say Adam McKay’s work is commemorated by critics, which is why it was such a shock when he brought forward the dumpster fire that is Don’t Look Up this past December.
You may have heard of Don’t Look Up because of its star-studded cast, with household names such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawerence, Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, and even Ariana Grande. Unfortunately, this cast is deprived of reaching their full potential as actors. It almost seems pretentious to have this extremely acclaimed cast but place them in very mediocre roles.
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the main characters, an astronomer who goes into a panic when Jennifer Lawerence, his undergrad assistant, discovers there is a giant comet heading towards Earth that will destroy the planet in six months and fourteen days. The entire movie consists of them struggling to raise the proper awareness about the comet heading to destroy Earth and having public meltdowns on national television.
Jennifer Lawerence and Leonardo DiCaprio have very brief moments in which their acting shines but other than that, they mope around and are forced to make slightly comedic comments to make light of the melodramatic situation of the movie. Perhaps one of the biggest examples of wasted potential in the movie is poor Meryl Streep having to play such an obnoxious character. Her character, the President of the United States, is such a ridiculous caricature of our former president that it’s not even funny. It’s so in-your-face that it’s insulting to the audience, as if they wouldn’t connect the dots if it was done subtly. She ignores the terrifying information given by DiCaprio and Lawerence and focuses on her poll numbers and celebrity news.
Her son, played by Jonah Hill, who is the secretary of state of his mother and explains that the only reason he got the job is due to nepotism, is the classic character with the frat guy sense of humor that soon gets tiring. Cate Blanchett also takes a very cardboard character role, where there is no depth to her character and she only serves the role of uptight news reporter/a side piece that seems to lack any human empathy. She’s only there to add some sort of romance-drama in the movie. Timothee Chalamet’s character is essentially meaningless, a teenage dirtbag skater that becomes a last-minute romantic interest for Jennifer Lawerence’s character and probably has a total of seven lines. If you blink, you might miss him.
While the movie does bring awareness to specific issues, a vigorous nod to climate change and perhaps the pandemic, and the lack of proper government handling of these situations, it does so in a way that is far too exaggerated. If it had not made the jokes so obvious, it wouldn’t have been such a comedic failure. The idea and purpose of the movie was very important, especially during these times, and to mask it in a comedy is a good way of coping with such frustrating situations in the real world. However, hiring a bucket load of A-list actors to divert the attention from its mediocrely funny lines, lack of character depth, and predictable ending is not the way to go. This is a story that could’ve been told in a short film but was stretched into 145 tedious minutes.