Why not looking up is a major failure of the film

The world is ending and no one cares. A timeline has been drawn up based on almost irrefutable evidence of human extinction, while the desperate warnings of scientists and experts have been willfully ignored and grossly misinterpreted. People are less likely to agree with experts, scientists or governments, even if the threat to the species is imminent. What’s wrong with us?



Is this a description of the state of the world’s climate change, or a synopsis for the 2021 Academy Award nominations don’t look up? That’s the question director Adam McKay wanted to ask the audience. McKay uses the discovery of a fictional comet that is about to destroy the planet and its six-month direct orbit toward Earth as an allegory for the current political and ecological situation. Unfortunately, the film’s delivery doesn’t live up to its brilliant concept.

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Updated: 20 June 2023: In order to keep this article fresh and relevant by adding more information and entries, this article has been updated with additional material from Evan Lewis.

McKay has had an interesting career. Beginning with his wildly successful comedy with Will Ferrell (anchor, stepbrother), McKay has since turned to more dramatic films (vice) and a mixture of both (big short). don’t look up trying to do something about climate change big short Made for the 2008 financial crisis – tackles a difficult subject through a satirical lens and an incredible cast of stars, but where big short succeeded, don’t look up struggle.



basic plot

ensemble cast don't look up
Netflix

The film follows two Michigan scientists, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, who discover a doomsday comet with a near 100 percent chance of destroying Earth. They begin the long and protracted attempt to make anyone care, from the government and its Trumpian president (played by a wasteful but wonderfully twisted Meryl Streep) to the dismissive media.

Countless stars play an almost insignificant role in scientists’ frustratingly insignificant quest. Jonah Hill improvises in several scenes as Streep’s son and chief of staff, Tyler Perry plays the talk show host’s little comic, and Ariana Grande has an affair with Kid Cudi An utterly redundant subplot and musical moment, Melanie Lynskey is usually absent, as DiCaprio’s wife Timothy Charome and Chris Evans show up for almost no reason, Rob Morgan It’s thankless as an unnecessary sidekick, and Ron Perlman is laughably overblown as a politically incorrect astronaut.

When a movie is stuffed with so many stars, it’s hard for any of them to shine. However, Cate Blanchett and Mark Rylance are incredible in very specific, odd roles. Blanchett, another co-host of an overly blissfully ignorant talk show, begins an affair with “sexy scientist” DiCaprio. She’s perfect in every scene, whether she’s monologue about the president she’s slept with, longing for the scruffy Midwestern scientist, or embracing her comically indifferent and cynical approach to the world. As an extremely powerful technology giant, Rylance gave one of the strongest performances this year. He is the third Mr. Rogers, the third Steve Jobs and the third Joe Biden. It’s small, but it’s an oddly crafted character crafted by an Oscar-winning actor.

Aside from those two performance highlights (and a reliably funny joke about a Pentagon general charging people for free White House snacks), the film is surprisingly uninteresting, given McKay’s pedigree and the cast he’s assembled.the premise of the movie is like a fun or die The sketches are stretched too far, and the jokes quickly become boring. The jokes are also very obvious, with no real nuance.

This is due to a number of reasons – the subject matter becomes very dark, the film abandons humor almost entirely in the final half hour; DiCaprio and Lawrence are tasked with directing the film, and neither is particularly funny (although the former is really good at The angst and mediocrity his role requires, and Lawrence excels at mischief); McKay doesn’t seem interested in directing the film with the kind of comedic energy he’s usually good at.

pitch inconsistency

Ariana Grande and Kidd Cudi at Don't Look Up
Netflix

If the movie isn’t funny, it’s not particularly dramatic either. Too many subplots, characters, and narrative dead ends prevent any tension or emotional investment from building up. The movie doesn’t dramatize itself enough, but its themes and its trajectory aren’t funny at all. McKay knows how to blend comedy and drama beautifully, but he doesn’t succeed here.

That’s not to say the film was a complete failure. In fact, some people really like it. The premise is actually kind of brilliant, allowing McKay to dissect the present moment through his fictional scenarios. The director is clearly angry and frustrated that the world continues to ignore, argue or attack experts and scientists on a wide range of current critical topics, from coronavirus to climate change, and he conveys this through some of his characters.

RELATED: Don’t Look Up Review: Netflix’s Sledgehammer Satire on America’s Political Divide

“Do you know how many ‘end of the world’ meetings we’ve had over the years?” the president taunted scientists before telling them to “wait and evaluate,” despite the impending impact of a comet. Reports in the media that “Jewish billionaires invented the comet so the government could take away our liberties” echo true claims by conspiracy theorists like Marjorie Taylor Green. “Keep it easy,” says one of the talk show hosts, as scientists prepare to present their planet-destroying discovery to the world. “Sadness is bad,” the tech billionaire told PEOPLE. Clearly, no one wants to hear the depressing truth.

DiCaprio’s character is caught in this madness, at first in disbelief, then absorbed by the celebrity culture around him, until realizing that no one is doing anything to prevent the end of the world from coming. His anxiety builds until he has a nervous breakdown while giving a speech on national television, easily the film’s best scene. DiCaprio himself worked with McKay and revised some 15 speeches, and his care paid off. The speech was a poignant indictment of the contemporary moment, when people can’t agree on vaccinations, face masks, environmental disasters, politics and just about everything else.

Sometimes, we just need to be able to talk to each other, we need to be able to hear things. If we can’t all at least agree that a giant comet the size of Mount Everest heading towards Earth is not a good thing, then what the hell happened to us? I mean, my god, how do we talk to each other, what do we do to ourselves, how do we fix it? We should have deflected this comet when we had the chance, but we didn’t, I don’t know why we didn’t(…) I’m sure people won’t even listen to what I just said because they have their own political ideology, but I promise you, I’m not taking one side or the other, I’m just telling you the truth!

This passage reminds me of networkThe “Crazy to Die” moment, somewhat spinoff, is the revived core of a previously dead film, awakening it as a dark, depressing drama (though it still digresses from the painful, uninteresting scenes of the titled “Comedy”) ). The speech beautifully encapsulates the divisions and frustrating gridlock of our time, capturing the disbelief that scientists and those who believe in them feel when their urgent warnings are ignored by large swaths of the population. It’s an angry, desperate cry for cultural emptiness, and hopefully someone will hear its echo.

Another interesting scene occurs in the final stretch of the film, where the comet’s crash course is fully visible in the night sky. Traffic stops, the busy world pauses, climb out of their cars and look out the window at something they don’t believe. This illuminates the sad fact that humans generally only react to disasters when they are visible and occur long after warnings are made. The most significant effects of climate change are not yet fully visible (at least not from the perspective of much of the US; this is not the case in Madagascar, India, and the Arctic), leading many to dismiss dire forecasts and governments to put off drastic intervention. Unfortunately, when the worst happens, it’s too late to fix it, and this movie makes that very clear.

Movies don’t always have to be good to make an impact

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence Explain Comet to Talk Show Hosts Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry
Netflix

The nature of Netflix as one of the most accessible streaming platforms for viewers means don’t look up was seen by many people. Even if the film itself may not live up to the narrative, its secondary purpose of getting people talking about climate change arguably does. So it might not work as a movie, but it does serve as a starting point.

Climate action has returned to the forefront with general audiences; in fact, the denial of the scientific method has become a total buzzword in the months since its release. It particularly resonated with those who support vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, who put their faith in experts in creating and distributing vaccines against the virus.Much of the debate reflects don’t look up Although not as bombastic as the satirical aspect of the show. McKay has even put his money where his mouth is countless times through donations and activism, focusing on the state of the planet and what we as humans can do to prevent looming catastrophe. He even pledged to triple his donations to Just Stop Oil, an organization known for wreaking havoc in the name of activism.

Related: The Big Short Review: A scathing indictment on Wall Street

It’s an important precedent when making a film with these themes. After a mixed reception, McKay could have easily thrown a rock and hid his hands, but he strengthened his convictions and continued to push ideals that would only benefit the planet and its future inhabitants. Since the dawn of cinema, there have been many examples of directors (arguably) contradicting themselves in word or work, but he is determined not to be one of those names. Sometimes a good guy can make a bad movie, and it’s important to separate the two. While the film itself may not be remembered as one of the classics or the best work of anyone involved, it certainly had an impact on audiences in that moment.

Noble effort doesn’t make good movies

Lawrence DiCaprio Don't Look Up 2021 Bluegrass
bluegrass movies

Technically, McKay and Netflix have produced a truly beautiful production. Everything looks great, thanks to flawless lighting, McKay’s typically playful use of screen text, and the stellar work of Academy Award-winning cinematographer Linus Sandgren. But, for some reason, McKay seems to insert pointlessly long, dry material (plants, babies, lizards, etc.) for seemingly no reason; it’s actually ridiculous, and probably not on purpose.

don’t look up is a truly noble and necessary endeavor that creates a unique way of talking about things that people usually fight over or simply ignore. Maybe the restrictions and chaos of the pandemic affected the film, or maybe McKay was just trying to do too much here, with his head and his heart pushing him to pack as much social commentary as possible into an already overloaded film. Whatever the reasons, the results are unexpected — a lackluster satire from comedy masters and satirists;It’s weird to say a film is both critical and a flop, but don’t look up Manage to do both somehow.

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