Verdict: 10 out of 10
Don’t Look Up‘s meager 7.3 out of 10 rating on IMDB is most-likely a commentary on the movie’s polarizing nature rather than on the film’s actual quality. A 75-million-dollar endeavor from Netflix, released straight to streaming, it may be the biggest budget ever for a made-for-Netflix movie. This 75 million bought an all-star cast featuring Lianardo Dicaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, and Cate Blanchet, to name a few… but the $75-million bought more than actors, as the real star in this film is it’s pointed-but-zany script, impeccable comedic timing, and expert direction.
Don’t Look Up may be possibly the most important movie of the decade. It is a movie that is likely to be poorly emulated by many movies that follow as producers and film students study it’s many innovations and out-of-the-box thinking for years to come.
If the film isn’t for everyone, it is probably due to the fact that not everyone on this planet appreciates looking into a mirror at themselves and their neighbors. The social commentary in this film is pointed and polarizing, clearly pointing fingers at the idiots among us, both liberal and conservative. As if in a nod to South Park, the movie attempts to poke fun at everyone not just one political party. It probably leans liberal, but nobody comes out unscathed… the anti-vaxxers, the MAGA crowd, the conspiracy theorists, the corporate news media commentators (e.g. “The View”), social media, tech giants, nepotism, the stoners, the IVY League, the military, pop stars, and influencers.
In the opening scenes of the film, Kate Dibiaski, a college PhD student played by Jennifer Lawrence, discovers a new comet. Her fellow students and professor, Dr. Mindy (Lianardo Dicaprio), all gather to celebrate the discovery of “Comet Dibiaski” in the way that nerds do, by doing a bunch of math on a whiteboard, determined to figure out how close the comet will come to Earth. It is soon determined that this comet is on a direct trajectory to destroy the planet in 6 months and 14 days.
What follows is reminiscent of Mike Judge’s 2006 film Idiocracy as the pair meet every road block imaginable trying to get the media, general public, and president of the United States (played by Meryl Streep, clearly as a hybrid of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump) to take the threat seriously. The film invokes these feelings of frustration in it’s comedic timing repeatedly, as the team’s important news about the end of the world is consistently slotted behind the president’s schedule of dealing with political scandals and supreme court nominees, and behind the media’s obsession with pop star Rily Bina’s (Ariana Grande) relationship drama with “DJ Chello” (Kid Kudi).
The comedic timing in this movie is 1-part idiocy, 1-part frustration, and 1-part twisted hysteria as you observe the various characters in the movie trivialize what is important, aggrandize things that are unimportant, betray and sabotage themselves and others. If you don’t like this movie, it is likely because it hits very “close to home”. It paints a bleak picture of our society and our future, and you just might not like the feelings of dread it brings you in-between the constant laughs.
You could think of it as 2021’s version of Mike Judge’s 2006 film, Idiocracy, or you could think of it as a modern day Dr. Strangelove. Maybe it is both.
Regardless, I hope that by turning a mirror on ourselves and laughing at ourselves, maybe we can figure out a way to stop killing each other before the actual end of the world.
I have one friend who hated this movie. He thought that all the jokes pointed out the obvious… the themes rehashed… just button-pushing, inflaming old arguments… but so far he is the only person I’ve met that didn’t think this was one of the greatest movies ever made. I give it a 10 out of 10.