Review: ‘Don’t Look Up’

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With a star-studded cast, stylistic humour, and a serious message, Netflix’s Don’t Look Up promises viewers a watch that won’t disappoint. Opening with a restyled Leonardo DiCaprio playing Randall Mindy, the geeky and awkward opening soon takes a turn for the worse. Alongside Kate Dibiasky (played by Jennifer Lawrence) the two soon realise that a catastrophic comet is heading towards Earth, and with not much time to spare they need to come up with a solution…fast. 

In a world of egotism, conceit, and sheer arrogance, this becomes near impossible

With a run time of over two hours, a solution for such a tragedy seems manageable. However, in a world of egotism, conceit, and sheer arrogance, this becomes near impossible. Throughout the film, comedy is often at the forefront of the storyline, a clever tactic that works for various reasons. 

Firstly, the use of humour allows a mockery to be made regarding the concept of status and influence within the film. The President (played by Meryl Streep) has what I can only describe as a ‘pick me’ attitude. Such is epitomised by her ‘revolutionary’ defiance when smoking cigarettes on her campaign pictures, to make the political statement that she doesn’t care. Viewing this through a microcosmic lens, Streep embodies what it is to attempt to understand and acknowledge the struggles of a nation, whilst unconsciously, or perhaps even consciously making the gap so blatantly obvious not even humour can distract from it. 

Whilst humour ultimately fails as a distraction for those with an elite status within the film, it seems to be a coping mechanism for members of the public. A favourite character of mine is Yule (played by Timothée Chalamet). Undeniably he has the best line in the film as he proudly proclaims, “I fucking love fingerling potatoes!” Whilst this line literally made me laugh out loud, it acted as a true representation of the potential for unity. This line occurs when Randall, Kate and Yule are grocery shopping for the final meal they will have with their family before the comet hits. Henceforth, whilst this line was undeniably hilarious, it reminded me of the little things in life. 

The meticulous casting is something to be commended

Humour aside, the meticulous casting is something to be commended. Riley Bina, (played by Arianna Grande) is a popstar who is rooted firmly in stardom. However, this character still uses her status to spread the correct message, even if it is merely “we really fucked it up this time”. Looking back to last year, Grande herself made a similar regarding the pandemic, slamming TikTokers when stating, “did we really all need to go [out for] fucking [food] that badly that we couldn’t have waited for the deadly pandemic to pass?” In both cases, the popstar blatantly tells the truth with a blunt message that is nothing short of memorable. The uncanny, yet satirical representation of ‘real life’ Grande proves that this film’s strong suit is jest, as humour reveals the serious nature of what society is currently facing.

Interestingly, I’ve heard mixed reviews of this film, deeming it what I like to call a ‘Marmite movie’. Maybe the inclusion of memes is a bit outdated and yes, maybe Jonah Hill’s excessive jokes (which paint him to be the same provocative gull we’ve seen repeatedly on the big screen) don’t offer anything revolutionary. However, I think this is the point. With the movie recycling old comedic tropes, putting the world into turmoil and failing at coming up with any sort of solution, does this not insightfully mirror real life in a sense?

If anything, this comedy is relatable rather than just a cheap joke so please, ‘do look up’ and realise that this film is trying to show us what we’ve been getting wrong in the past, the pandemic, and the future. 

Image: Cristofer Maximilian via Unsplash

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