Review: Don’t Look Up (Netflix)

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By Thza Kanapathipillai

Don’t Look Up is a clever, disaster satire of our distracted, divided America. It’s a warning of the consequences of waiting too long to act even with evidence right in front of us. With the past, turbulent couple of years, we have experienced first-hand how polarization has affected the U.S. through many, many ways: politics, vaccine hesitancy, mask mandates, the list goes on. The film featured parallel situations the U.S. has already faced. We also forget the threat of climate change looming over us, which the film was intended to be a massive warning for. 

Doctoral candidate Kate Dibiasky and a Michigan State University astronomy professor Randall Mindy discover that a comet of a planet-destroying size is headed for Earth. But, for an urgent issue, the comet situation is taken advantage of by power-hungry, money-hungry people until it’s too late. The film sets up this dramatic tension, but as soon as they try to spread the word, at first through the White House, the satire hits. 

The movie features big names with the main characters, Dr. Randall Mindy and Kate Dibiasky, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. As well as President Orlean as Meryl Streep, the movie featured other celebrities like comedians Jonah Hill and Tyler Perry and even musician Ariana Grande, among other notable names. Most of the celebrities also looked up to real people for their characters to encapsulate (which they hit the mark for). The random, star-studded cast perfectly executed the film’s depiction of an America consumed by the spread of misinformation, social media, celebrity worship, and political gamesmanship. The film could have any message: Leonardo DiCaprio said it is a metaphor for climate change and others felt it was an “allegory for the government’s handling of COVID-19.”

The movie hit a little too close to home as terrifying as it is, which honestly must be why it had very mixed reviews. The film’s true intention is to create more conversation about climate change. Though director Adam McKay said that the backlash to the movie was “brutal,” he mentioned that at least the movie shined a light on climate scientists who finally feel seen. This movie was brilliantly put-together, but despite the excellent humor aspect of the movie, it does get a little too real. The best aspect of Don’t Look Up is that the film never holds back punches when it comes to criticizing the real-life people the characters were meant to portray.  I highly recommend it!