Adam McKay, the director behind the critically acclaimed The Big Short, returns with another interesting project alongside the slogan of ‘based on truly possible events’: Don’t Look Up. Just like his previous two films, The Big Short and Vice, McKay once again writes and directs a dark comedy as the audience can come to expect from the director.
The story is a very obvious imitation of the climate crisis humanity faces today, though McKay prefers to add a bit of an absurdity to the situation by changing the climate crisis to a comet headed towards the earth that might eradicate all of mankind. Every reaction from the groups portrayed in Don’t Look Up has a counterpart in reality in the context of the comet symbolising the climate crisis: from media’s clickbait approach to governments only acting on the incentive of politics instead of acting to society’s benefit to scientists trying to make themselves heard to people outright rejecting evidence presented to them in all clarity, the film has everything.
The performances, as McKay’s films usually go, are in no way subpar to the grandeur task the writer-director takes on. Proven names such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep act to the dramatic standard expected, while Jonah Hill, as his roles usually tend to be, provides very on-point comic relief. Even supporting roles with very limited screen time do a great job, such as Timothée Chalamet, Cate Blanchett and Ron Perlman, who leave the audience wishing for more as a result of their perfect portrayal of respective characters.
This review, though, is not a love letter to McKay’s directing, because much like all films, there are some steps that were taken in the production that, if avoided, would have made Don’t Look Up better. The first of those is the length of the film. It, by no means, drags too long or anything to that degree, yet there are a few scenes, particularly in the last act, that could have been left out without any noticeable impact. The second problem is, while all of the political commentary in the film is valid, or at least worth discussing, trying to touch on practically everything wrong with today’s political climate is difficult to achieve in just one film, thus, McKay only superficially touches on most subjects. Still, he perfectly encapsulates the most pressing matter, so it is not the biggest issue, but it is still there nevertheless.
In a sum, Don’t Look Up is one of the most politically charged films of 2021, and it does not attempt to overshadow this by solely focusing on comedic aspects, it does so by using comedy as a defence mechanism for what could very well cause unforeseen catastrophes for humanity, let alone the ones the can already be predicted. Scientists who research the climate crisis mostly had positive comments on the film, and when a film with scientific thinking behind it is favoured by scientists, there has to be something worth seeing in there. It might be challenging for some to distance themselves from their politically-charged views, but if they can manage to do that, there is a very enjoyable film underneath.