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Don't Look Up (15)

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Rob Morgan, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry
Genre: Comedy
Author(s): Adam McKay
Director: Adam McKay
Release Date: 10/12/2021 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 138mins
Country: US
Year: 2021

Astronomy grad student Kate Dibiasky makes a shocking discovery: a comet the size of Mount Everest is on a collision course with Earth and will hit the third rock from the Sun in a matter of months. Armed with the devastating data, Kate and her professor, Randall Mindy, meet with US President Janie Orlean to share the grave news. Their grim predictions are met with apathy in the run-up to the mid-term elections.


LondonNet Film Review
Don’t Look Up (15)

In the aftermath of the UN Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow, where the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement remained frustratingly out of reach, the notion of an unequivocal global response to protect the planet seems laughable. Writer-director Adam McKay is laughing, through gritted teeth, and he encourages us to do the same with his bruising satire of the climate change crisis and misinformation in an age of rolling 24-hour news. Don’t Look Up makes merry from an imminent extinction-level event that will exterminate life on the third rock from the sun…

Before the special effects department can unleash a tsunami of cataclysmic digital trickery worthy of an overblown Roland Emmerich disaster movie, McKay takes pot shots at the political elite, journalism, celebrities, social media and corporate greed. He draws a few droplets of blood – Ariana Grande’s portrayal of a pop starlet in the throes of a high profile break-up from her rapper beau (Scott Mescudi) is a hoot – but he only registers flesh wounds compared to the juicy, deep lacerations of his previous two pictures, The Big Short and Vice. Starry A-listers including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance and Cate Blanchett twinkle intermittently but some of the cast burn out before a running gag about AI-predicted death delivers a grisly punchline.

Michigan State University astronomy graduate Kate Dibiasky (Lawrence) is photographing the starry firmament while listening to Wu-Tang Clan when she makes a shocking discovery. A comet the size of Mount Everest is on a collision course with Earth and will impact in exactly six months and 14 days. Kate’s nerve-jangled professor Randall Mindy (DiCaprio) contacts Dr Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan) at Nasa’s Planetary Defence Coordination Office to facilitate a meeting at the White House.

Kate and Randall’s data is brushed aside by President Janie Orlean (Streep) and Chief of Staff, her drug-addled son Jason (Jonah Hill), who want to “sit tight and assess”. They are three weeks away from mid-terms and are mired in scandal about an unfortunate choice of nominee for the Supreme Court. Enraged by the political apathy, Kate and Randall risk arrest by the FBI with an appearance on morning TV show The Daily Rip hosted by the chirpy double act of Brie Evantree (Blanchett) and Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry).

Burdened with a running time uncomfortably over two hours, Don’t Look Up ironically makes us silently wish for a speedier end to the world. Lawrence and DiCaprio combust amusingly on screen with frustration in stark contrast to Streep’s slippery stateswoman full of Trumpian bombast. Rylance’s impish embodiment of a quixotic telecommunications billionaire (“the third richest human ever”) is by turns creepy and child-like. A saggy middle section, including a poorly utilised Timothee Chalamet, is redeemed by a curiously poignant and sentimental finale.

– Jo Planter


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