It’s the apocalypse, and we’re all living in it. There’s no denying the ways of the world surrounding us, so we might as well poke some fun at it while we try to shed some light on the topic and start a conversation.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play a pair of low-level astronomers from Michigan State University who discover an asteroid (a scary, massive, really big one) headed right for Earth off in the universe. Meryl Streep plays the President of the United States. Jonah Hill plays her son, who has a high ranking job (thanks to mommy) within the White House. Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry are news anchors covering the ongoing meteor crisis with DiCaprio and Lawrence. Rob Morgan plays DiCaprio and Lawrence’s confidante and companion throughout the whole process. Mark Rylance plays a unique character that is at once a mash-up of Steve Jobs, Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross, Elon Musk, and any number of tech billionaires. Timothée Chalamet plays a teenage boy with a mullet living in the middle of nowhere. Ariana Grande plays a satirical pop sensation alongside Kid Cudi who plays her satirical rap star boyfriend. Ron Perlman plays a hardcore colonel. Himesh Patel plays Lawrence’s character’s boyfriend. Melanie Lynskey plays DiCaprio’s character’s wife.
(And then Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem before jumping off the roof of a stadium while DJ Khaled shouts into a microphone, Will Smith comes riding in on horseback, Adam Sandler is walking his dog, Adele performs a show in Vegas, and Ryan Seacrest hosts the show. Just kidding. Ryan Seacrest was busy shooting American Idol.)
The truth is, about half of Hollywood is in this movie. And it feels like it. There are often times that you’ll see an actor, and then be like, “That’s all they do in this?” There are so many of these actors that must have never crossed paths on set because they never come close to sharing a scene together. It’s that big of a cast and that big of a movie.
Written before the COVID-19 pandemic and shot during the pandemic in late 2020, it’s pretty incredible to think that this idea was concocted pre-pandemic and then filmed mid-pandemic. Tonally, there is a level of satire that is very appropriate. (I don’t think anyone will have wished this had gone any more literal than it did.)
It nails the satire in a way that everybody can appreciate. There is some perfectly timed editing going on here, so every joke, every piece of dialogue, and every frame hits in just the right way.
Nicholas Britell’s score is amazingly unique, but that’s no surprise. It perfectly combines the mix of techno and futuristic with the atmospheric qualities we’re used to from Britell.
I loved the jokes that kept being brought back up and were just so clever. It felt like there were these inside jokes with the audience, and that added a much-needed degree of levity to a film dealing with the end of the world.
It hit a little bit close to home sometimes. It’s obviously being satirical and assuming the worst case scenario, but it feels a little too real in certain moments. We’re not watching something that looks too far from what would actually happen if we realized there was a massive meteor headed our way.
In the lead-up to this film’s premiere, I wondered exactly how much it would lean into its climate change awareness. Would it be anything more than an environmental vanity project (if that’s even right term) from Leonardo DiCaprio? Adam McKay is never one to tiptoe around a subject he feels passionate about, and Leonardo DiCaprio is obviously known for his activism. The result is this happy medium that shines a much-needed spotlight on the facts and how we should listen to scientific reason without feeling too preachy. It’s this level of accessibility that keeps it on the right level for all audiences to enjoy.
Unsurprisingly, things get pretty political here. Meryl Streep and Jonah Hill play this awful mother-son, president-chief-of-staff duo in the White House that feels all too real. Ripping reality from the headlines in more ways than one, it’s obvious there are some real problems with how some these things in the real world are being done.
Ariana Grande’s role is an amped up cameo, and Kid Cudi’s role is even less prominent. With that said, they are a key part of the film, and their original song, “Just Look Up,” comes in at just the right time. I could really see this being a big contender at the Oscars, a la “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.
There is also a song by Bon Iver titled “Second Nature” that I really loved and thought was situated really nicely following one of the mid-credits scenes. The entire soundtrack is now streaming on all digital platforms, so you can go ahead and listen to the music even before the film is out.
Why is it so entertaining to watch a movie about our planet’s demise? Why is there humor in the world exploding as we know it? Why? These are questions I asked myself the whole time as I sat there laughing at various points of the film.
Every joke doesn’t land, and there are some moments that feel a little too real to be funny, but this star-studded affair is one of the funniest yet poignant movies of the year in how it portrays the crazy, insane, scary, humor of it all.
Don’t Look Up debuts on Netflix on Friday, December 24.