Movie Review: Don’t Look Up

I’d heard a fair bit about Don’t Look Up over the last while. A Netflix movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence (along with Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, and others). It’s directed by Adam McKay, who did the Excellent The Big Short, and all that was intriguing enough to catch my interest. The fact that it was being described as a modern-day Dr. Strangelove? That seemed like an awfully big claim to be making.

The movie’s premise is pretty straightforward: a couple of astronomers discover a comet that’s on a head-on course for a direct impact with Earth in six months. It’s big enough that when it hits, it will destroy all life on the planet, ala the dinosaurs going extinct. Naturally, they bring this to the authorities, and the authorities . . . just don’t care.

Oh, they care. They just only care insofar as it will affect their chances to win the next election, or to potentially profit off the comet. And the public gets wind of it, and the public also . . . “cares.” Some of them start looting. Some of them give up hope. Many (many) of them think it’s just a hoax, and plenty of people show up to discount the “science.”

On the one hand, it’s depressingly relatable. Prior to COVID, I probably would have scoffed at a lot of what goes on in the movie. Now? I kind of just took it all in stride and accepted that much or most of it would be pretty spot on. It’s like a more realistic version of Armageddon (the movie, not the world-ending apocalypse.) Instead of coming together as a planet, the planet just pretty much self just self destructs.

But I did find the movie to be pretty one note. It’s a fine concept, but it just kept hammering that theme over and over and over, to the point of frustration. Yes. I get that people will be stupid. But it never failed to rub my nose in it again and again. And mind you, it’s 138 minutes long, so it has plenty of time to keep jamming on that key ad nauseum.

In the end, the movie comes around, and I generally liked the movie (enough to give it a 7/10), but with some good editing (and maybe some streamlining of the script), it could have been so much better. In the end, much of it felt like a dot-to-dot, where I know which way the dots are going to be connected, and so I didn’t need to see literally every connection made. And the heavy-handedness didn’t do too much for it either. (The audience seems clearly “people who are mad at the way COVID has been treated, which is fine, but seems sort of self-congratulatory. It might have been nice to have it made in a way that some people who actually are COVID-skeptics could watch it and reevaluate their opinions. I have a hard time anyone in that category would come anywhere close to that with this.)

Which all ends up with a film that I can’t really endorse for most people. It’s good. It’s well made. But it’s not great, and it’s not enjoyable. Once you know the premise, you know the plot. And so is it really worth watching a movie (even a good one), when you don’t really need to?

That sounds kind of like a strange description, but it’s as close as I can come to describing my interaction with the film. Anyone else out there watch it? What did you think?


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