Don’t Look Up is a whirlwind of a movie. The Adam McKay film follows Kate Dibiasky and Dr. Mindy, two academic astronomers, who find themselves at the center of a media frenzy while they’re attempting to warn mankind of a massive comet (known to space pundits as a “planet-killer”) that’s hurtling towards Earth. While the narrative of this movie is intended to be humorous, it’s also eerily reflective of the way humanity could react if something like this were actually to happen. Things get worse for Dibiasky and Dr. Mindy when Peter Isherwell, Don’t Look Up‘s Steve Jobs-like character played by Mark Rylance, discovers there’s money to be made from this killer comet that could wipe out humankind and quashes the mission to deflect it before it reaches Mother Earth, This money-over-mankind behavior is yet another reflection of our society that hits a little too close to home.
Without giving away too much of the plot, it’s safe to say that all doesn’t end well. And while this movie was slightly terrifying and somewhat funny, the irony of McKay’s message in Don’t Look Up isn’t lost on me. From the minute the film starts, tensions are high. The way the camera shifts from the action in the scene to a random hand tapping a knee or a teabag dunking in hot water then back to the action, sets the entire movie’s tone — one of stress with a smattering of comedy.
The cast of Don’t Look Up deliver engaging performances ranging from Jennifer Lawrence’s charmingly rough-around-the-edges Kate Dibiasky to Meryl Streep’s turn as money-hungry, poll-focused U.S. president Janie Orlean and from Rob Morgan’s play-by-the-rules Teddy to Leonardo DiCaprio’s highly frantic, heavily medicated Dr. Mindy, who gets a taste of the limelight and likes it a bit too much.
It’s no secret that DiCaprio is a proponent for conservation and is knowledgeable about climate change. And Don’t Look Up puts him in a role that is aligned with his beliefs. But at the end of the day, McKay created a film about climate change with A-list stars who travel in private jets instead of flying commercially and who live lavishly and, ultimately, do things that aren’t all that great for the environment. And yes, McKay probably put these stars in the satire so people would pay attention to big issues like climate change, but that doesn’t take away from the irony of the whole situation.
I’m not saying that Don’t Look Up is a bad movie — in fact, I enjoyed it because it forced me to think about things like how would I spend my final moments on Earth, knowing I was about to become space dust. I still don’t have an answer, but hopefully I will muster one up before learning that a “planet-killer” is headed my way.