After “The Big Short” and “Vice – The Second Man”, former Will Ferrell companion Adam McKay is rowing back a little in terms of subversive analysis of American history and is joining in DON’T LOOK UP a hit-and-miss satire that is uncomfortably close to reality. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Don’t Look Up (USA 2021)
Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), astronomy student, and her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) discovers a comet orbiting the solar system. The problem? It is on a direct collision course with Earth. The other problem? Nobody cares. Warning humanity about a planet killer the size of Mount Everest is actually turning out to be quite a difficult task. With the help of Dr. Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), Kate and Randall embark on a press tour, from the office of the indifferent President Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her obsequious son and chief of staff Jason (Jonah Hill) to the radio program “The Daily Rip”, a lively morning show that hosted by Brie (Cate Blanchett) and Jack (Tyler Perry). Only six months remain until the comet hits. And trying to get featured on the 24-hour news circuit and grab the attention of the social media-obsessed populace before everything is doomed turns out to be shockingly funny. What do you have to do to make the world look up?
It’s not as if the premise of Adam McKay’s end-of-the-world satire “Don’t Look Up” wasn’t already absurd enough: In a future that’s not too far away, but also not dated, there’s a “planet killer,” that’s what they call it Kind of all-devouring comet, heading toward Earth and threatening to destroy all life with its arrival. In the face of this catastrophe, however, the USA is not making any effort to spend the time that is left to them either on finding solutions or on everything else that they would like to do in their last days as an earthly resident. But with sitting out, denial and a militant “hear nothing and see nothing” strategy; Hence the title: “Don’t Look Up” – “Don’t look up!” Because if you don’t (don’t want to) see the meteorite, then it isn’t there either… “Don’t Look Up” was originally planned as a metaphor for the climate crisis, but now also has unmistakable parallels to dealing with the corona pandemic. And hey presto: Adam McKay’s film promptly turns out to be no longer just a satirical thought game, but also a salt-in-the-wound analysis of the grievances whose development we have been able to witness ourselves over the past two years. From the emergence of a radical conspiracy group that denies the catastrophe to people in government who do not recognize or do not want to recognize the seriousness of the situation. Perhaps “Don’t Look Up” could have been even more bitter, evil and biting at times, given that reality is currently just as crazy as McKay’s film reality. The film, which can now be seen in the cinema for a few weeks and then sent to Netflix, fulfills its purpose as a full-on comedy in the face of human idiocy with flying colors.
Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Dr. Clayton Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan) is not heard.
“Don’t Look Up” is something like that “Missing Link” between Adam McKay’s “Anchorman 2”, his last directorial effort in his Will Ferrell collaboration, and “The Big Short”, his first independent film that is far away from pure comedy, with which he catapulted himself into the awards race of his year . Nonsense and silliness that one is used to from the sometimes very crude Ferrell co-productions (including “Stepbrothers” or “The Other Cops”) can also be found in “Don’t Look Up”. It starts with the direction of the brilliantly caustic Meryl Streep, which is no longer just satirical, but rather parodic (“The Prom”) depicted US President, who causes one of countless tangible scandals with a pussy pic (the female counterpart to the “dick pic”). But also you from Jonah Hill (“War Dogs”) embodied film son as a stupid political henchman of his own mother without any backbone could just as well come from a McKay Ferrell comedy. These two characters, who are responsible for a significant portion of the humor, couldn’t be further away from the other desired tonal direction. Because “Don’t Look Up” is only on one side “Look how stupid humanity is!”-Nonsense film of the brand “Idiocracy” and has at least as much of a satirical approach. Now Adam McKay, who also wrote the script himself, does not prepare it as subtly as one would expect from his films “The Big Short” and “Vice – The Second Man”. The meta shenanigans are also kept within narrow limits here. At first glance, both films were “just” a retelling of real events in US history, but by weaving in various meta levels they also took on a satirical approach that showcased US society. Something that, particularly in the case of “Vice”, was thrown at McKay by many critics from overseas; And he also has to put up with this accusation in the face of “Don’t Look Up”.
“’Don’t Look Up’ is only on the one hand a ‘Look how stupid humanity is!’ nonsense film of the ‘Idiocracy’ brand and has at least as much of a satirical approach.
But it is significant that McKay has to deal with this, when the film’s intention to show a civilization gone out of control is written all over it as an all-encompassing intention: Yes, “Don’t Look Up” is (also) a magnifying glass analysis of political and social grievances. But the auteur filmmaker takes the sole responsibility for this away from the citizens themselves and distributes the blame for this omnipresent failure across various areas, all of which are shown well in the film. There is a look behind the scenes of the White House with politicians who are only concerned about their own success and their own image, who have no idea about political processes and are happily running into the buzz saw. There are the media, which now (have to) concentrate exclusively on populist content and keywords in order to reach an audience at all; If not with banal rainbow content or flat entertainment – in this world it really wouldn’t be surprising if “Ass” would be a multiple Oscar winner here in ten years. We remember “Idiocracy” again… But there is also the population, spurred on by all these influences, for whom social media has never made it easier to actively and radically participate in world events. However, “Don’t Look Up” is only a limited criticism of the existence of social media. Instead, it is the way of dealing with it that is caught in the crossfire of McKay’s comedic attacks.
Meryl Streep has a lot of fun in her role as President Janie Orlean.
Especially in comparison to McKay’s two direct predecessor films, the punchlines in “Don’t Look Up” may lack a bit of precision. Most of them ignite, which creates a constant fire because of the huge number of hits alone. Even if here and there some don’t work out completely. However, their statements are nowhere near as unpleasantly gut-wrenching as some of the insights brought to light in “The Big Short” or “Vice”. As clumsy as it sounds, the fact that humanity reveals its stupidity in the face of a catastrophe is simply nothing new at the end of 2021. All of this is still damn funny and entertaining – thanks in part to the world-class ensemble. In “Don’t Look Up” the créme de la créme of Hollywood come together (including Mark Rylance, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet and Ariana Grande) and set the stage for two leading actors in an excellent mood. Jennifer Lawrence (“mother!”) As the discoverer of the meteorite, who at first almost went crazy and later resigned when she saw the government doing nothing, stands “Then everyone just do what you want!”-Equal posture wonderful to face. While Leonardo DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”) For a long time he gives up the part that is completely devoted to science and therefore appears to be more grounded, until it falls victim to the omnipresent hype surrounding his figure; Which is a bit of a shame. As “the Christian Drosten when it comes to the end of the world,” DiCaprio might have worked even better to emphasize the level of science as the only relevant factual basis in this world and thus form a strong contrast to the media treatment. In “Don’t Look Up” the media and scientific perceptions of the events mix at some point; Without this culmination, some wonderful points of friction could have emerged.
“’Don’t Look Up’ is (also) a magnifying glass analysis of political and social grievances. But the auteur takes the sole responsibility for this away from the citizens themselves and distributes the blame for this omnipresent failure across different areas.”
As it is, “Don’t Look Up” follows differently oriented characters on a tour-de-force ride through the last days of humanity; And somehow Adam McKay hits the nail on the head with his sometimes indecisive humor. Although the film falls a little short of its storytelling potential due to its sole focus on the USA (it would have been exciting to see how other countries deal with the situation), it reflects a currently omnipresent feeling “We no longer know whether we should cry or just laugh spitefully, simply because we obviously don’t deserve anything better.”-uncertainty reflected. Maybe that’s precisely why you can’t watch a film like “Don’t Look Up” in good conscience at this point in time. Or perhaps what is needed right now is the realization that McKay ultimately yes but just a fictional story told in an unspecified future. And perhaps there are a few years between today in reality and today in the film in which such misery could still be averted. In complete contrast to the comet, the most tragic thing about whose impact on earth would be that it would not only wipe out humanity, but also all that is beautiful. It’s not for nothing that “Don’t Look Up” is full of inserts of breathtaking nature shots that show us that humans are by no means the most fascinating species on this planet…
Conclusion: For “Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay approaches his Will Ferrell roots more cinematically and moves a little further away from his phase as an accurate satirist thanks to “The Big Short” and “Vice.” His unprecedented star-studded doomsday comedy is riotous, bitterly evil and wonderfully silly at the same time. The two and a half hours fly by. However, parts of the audience might miss the meta shenanigans of his last two films. And you should also put aside your demands for subtlety in advance and instead embrace the spinning mallet with which McKay is hammering down everything that has been a sad reality for us over the last two years.
“Don’t Look Up” can be seen in USA cinemas from December 9th, 2021 and on Netflix on December 24th, 2021.