Don’t Look Up (2021) has become the must see movie this Christmas…but not everyone likes it. Produced and aired by Netflix, and directed by Adam McKay, it is all the space/geo-disaster movies you have ever seen like When Worlds Collide (1951), Meteor (1979), Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1998), rolled up into a biting satire like Dr Strangelove (1964).
It has fun making well aimed attacks on the modern day’s mean politics and its vacuous social media culture, along with an underlying lesson about what not to do in a disaster scenario…equally applicable to pandemics and climate change, of course. The plot – as per usual in imminent Earth strike disaster movies – has a heroic but flawed pair of astronomers, as played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, trying to get the truth out about how a comet is about to destroy the world.
Meryl Streep plays a kind of female populist President – Trump or Bolsonaro, Johnson, Modi, Putin etc with a dress on if you like – whose venal denialism and malevolent incompetence is directly blocking our hero pair’s attempts to save the world.
There are other stars popping up in the picture including the hard-to-recognise Kate Blanchet as a clever but lusty morning TV presenter who knows that her audience is more interested in the shallow goings on of celebrity culture than the rather more serious end of the world. For the younger audience, Ariana Grande plays a spoilt pop-princess – obviously not playing herself of course. Meanwhile, character actor Mark Rylance somewhat steals the film by playing a kind of weird Elon Musk/Jeff Bezos tech entrepreneur character controlling the government – with a bit – well a lot – of Andy Warhol thrown in for good measure.
The key question: is this film any good? Well – yes. Its slightly jerky style aside, it makes some stinging points and uses dry comedy to do it. It is, however, a bit one-sided. The uptight po-faced left-of-centre character of Lawrence is only touched on. Thus, in this allegory of the Covid pandemic it is the far right-wing governments, and their apparently misled conspiracy theory-believing supporters, who mainly get the script’s punishment for most obviously not acting fast enough.
So will you want to see Don’t Look Up again? Well, no. It is just a tad too depressingly real to make you want to ever want to see such a thing again – whether on film or in real life.
Seradata rating: 7/10 Look at it once and then hide behind the sofa.