Don't Look Up is an excellent satire that explores the themes of an ignorant government, irresponsible media, and the perils of social media and how they have the potential to destroy the planet. The premise is simple enough. A Ph.D. student, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), discovers a previously unknown comet at Michigan State University. Along with her Professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), she finds that it will collide with the planet in six months. Their struggle to convince the world of their discovery and the impending threat forms the rest of the movie.
Now, before I move ahead, here's a disclaimer. The movie is not a comedy. It does not have any laugh-out-loud moments like Adam McKay's previous features. And, I am glad it isn't. It could have been a comedy satire in the strictest sense, with caricaturish characters who try their best to make jokes and do silly things to elicit a response from the audience. But here's where it is different, though. Everything that happens in Don't Look Up feels too real. To some, it might seem like a stretch, but the movie and the characters are so self-aware about what's going on that the entire proceedings of the film seem all too plausible, and that is why it succeeds. It manages to be a movie that is not serious about itself yet makes it frighteningly realistic. The script coupled with top-notch acting rouses the movie.
Everything is made fun of. From celebrity breakups becoming national news to so sweet they'll give you diabetes morning news programs. The allusion of Meryl Streep playing the President and Jonah Hill being her Chief of Staff to a certain former President is also apparent. Though I did not fully agree with the comparisons, I see their point. Because it's hard to imagine the President of the largest democracy keeping a framed picture of her with cheesy action-star Steven Seagal in the Oval Office, it is indeed the stuff of nightmares. There are plenty of such references here, whether it's a senior politician being a part of a C-grade 80s movie or a President getting involved in a sex scandal. There's also Mark Rylance playing a billionaire technocrat with a god complex. Needless to say, some things land and some don't. But what's impressive is the entire star cast. To see DiCaprio and Lawrence trying to convince Meryl Streep and Jonah Hill about how the comet is an imminent threat while they turn a deaf ear is a treat. A special mention to Rob Morgan, who is believable as a frustrated yet pragmatic NASA scientist. Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry, as the hosts of a Morning Show, are also in their element. Ron Perlman is perfectly cast as a racist, loud-mouthed military war hero who is "from a different time." Timothee Chalamet, Kid Cudi, Himesh Patel, and Ariana Grande make brief appearances and are earnest in their performances.
The majority of the credit should go to Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. They are the real MVPs who carry the entire movie and have exciting character arcs. DiCaprio's Dr. Mindy is a panicky, socially awkward scientist who starts enjoying media attention and becomes a national overnight sensation. Jennifer's Dibiasky plays the confused-angry grad student phenomenally. You can feel her frustration throughout the movie and even sympathise with her. Credit should also be given to McKay and journalist David Sirota who wrote the film. Sirota brings the underlying aspects to the forefront – of those in power fooling their fellow citizens every day, so much so that they agree to not look up and see the comet. To reveal anything else would be a disservice to their efforts, so I'll end now. Don't Look Up does make a deep impact.