Before going into greater details of Don’t Look Up, it’s important to recognize the fact that this a terrible movie. Yes it’s about a comet and climate change, or any number of other messages that Adam McKay tries to convey. But the fact that’s it’s so bad, it detracts from everything McKay is trying to get across. It’s almost unwatchable unless you’re in the corner that believes the end of the world is inevitable. In that case, feel free to leave me in your will. I have heard it said that the movie turned out as intended. But no one sets out to make a bad movie. Why not make a great movie with the same messages in that case?
The premise of Don’t Look Up is that a comet is on a collision course with earth. This comet, if nothing is done, promises to destroy all life on our planet. The two key scientists played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lawrence, Dr. Randall Mindy and Kate Dibiasky respectively, do their best to convince the preoccupied, shallow, social media addicted simpletons of planet earth, of the inherent danger the comet presents. Of course no one really takes the threat seriously until it’s too late.
There’s an attempt to intercept and destroy the comet with nuclear weapons, but the attempt is aborted when wealthy capitalist, Peter Isherwell, played by Mark Rylance, discovers that the comet is comprised of diamonds and other elements that can be extracted. He convinces the President, Janie Orlean, played by Meryl Streep, and her son, Jason Orlean, played by Jonah Hill, to use new technology to break up the comet and collect the fragments. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t work and the comet continues its precarious journey towards earth. On a side note, Jason Orlean carries a Birkin Bag that costs at a minimum, $30,000. It’s a Hollywood Elite favorite and a not so subtle shot at Capitalism and there are many others. I wonder if McKay, DiCaprio, Streep, Hill and Lawrence are even aware of the irony.
There are three main reasons the movie doesn’t work. First, you have to care about at least one of the characters or at least relate to that character in some way. At the end of the movie, when the world is being destroyed by the comet, all I could think about was the English patient, when Elaine says, “Die Already.” That’s how I felt about this movie, “Die Already.” You don’t care that the world is ending, it’s not scary and elicits no emotions whatsoever, other than wanting to see the destruction of the planet. I found myself thinking, maybe the special effects will be incredible. Nope! Rather the opposite. The only other movie I could think of that I disliked as much, is Money Pit, that starred Tom Hanks and Shelly Long. Another waste of great talent.
Second, the acting was just horrific. While I’m sure DiCaprio will receive accolades from his Hollywood friends, the screaming, the yelling, the desperation and the overacting, regardless of reason, was simply annoying. I’m uncertain as to how making a movie with an overemotional DiCaprio and a crying, hysterical Lawrence, sends a message that we need to do something to mitigate climate change. It’s not profound to understand the reaction of human beings to this type of hysteria.
Using a comet as a metaphor for climate change is a poor play. The comet destroys the entire planet in one day, hours really. While Climate change will cause hardship to some, more than others, regardless of how humanity responds, the planet will still exist in a hundred years. So rather than trying to scare people, which never works, the message should be totally different. A Climate Emergency, to those who don’t care, which is a lot of people, including these actors who jet set around the world, is a poor argument. Instead, let’s change the narrative to the following:
- Fossil fuels are a finite resource. They will eventually run out. We need to start the preparation today, as it will take many years to fully migrate to renewable energy.
- Clean air is healthier and therefore better to breathe, than polluted air. Another good argument.
- Spell out EXACTLY what the new green job economy will look like and when exactly that will happen. People who earn their living from fossil fuels don’t want to hear the Hollywood Elites preaching to them about why it’s important to the planet. Paying a mortgage is a more immediate concern to most people than the panic of the climate change agenda.
Third, it didn’t accomplish what it set out to do, which is raise awareness of the serious issue that is climate change. If anything, you want to say “Do Shut Up” This feeling of anger is only exacerbated when you see photos of the over-emotional, over-acting DiCaprio, laying on a super yacht only a few weeks after the release. That’s a pretty large carbon footprint. Enough of these Hollywood elites trying to teach the “common man.” They are hypocrites and have no right or business preaching to the rest of us. And that is ultimately the main reason the movie fails so miserably. The people who make believe they’re not the same as the people they despise, is most ironic.
Just when you thought the movie couldn’t get any worse, comes two epilogues. First, those who escaped the destruction of earth, including the President, live on to inhabit a new planet 22,000 year in the future The viewer is led to believe, (even though it’s completely obvious what’s about to happen) that somehow this is a garden of Eden and these rich, spoiled, out of touch capitalists are going to be the Adam’s and Eve’s of this new planet. It all concludes when Meryl Streep walks up to what appears to be an innocuous looking creature, only to have her head eaten So much for Eden. And no, Streep didn’t do her own nudity. It was a body double. The unwanted and disturbing nudity, is far worse than the destruction of earth. The only place you normally see that much horrible nudity, is in a beach club locker room.
And finally, following all of the credits, Jason Orlean emerges from the destruction, holding his Birkin bag, as the only surviving human on earth. The first thing he does is use his smartphone to broadcast to his followers, of which none are left, that he’s the last person on earth. Poor ending and just one last desperate knock on humanity and capitalism. The movie is too angry and therefore detracts from what could have been a funny and clever attempt at explaining the seriousness of Climate Change. All this movie does is drive a deeper wedge between believers and doubters. But, the devout believers, those most fearful, will love it.