Don’t Look Up: Terrible and brilliant

Corina Beimers—Staff Writer

Contributed photo

On Christmas Eve of last year, Netflix released Don’t Look Up. While the apocalyptic satire isn’t exactly a warm, family-friendly Christmas flick, it became the streaming service’s second biggest Netflix Original movie of all time.

 While comedy filmmaker Adam McKay directed Don’t Look Up to make audiences laugh, he also intended to leave viewers with eyes wide open and stomachs in knots as they realized how the farce purposes itself as a commentary on global warming and the United States’ inability to confront a doomsday scenario.

Don’t Look Up received heavy criticism, despite its popularity. For example, Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 55 percent and reviewers from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times released negative opinions as well. 

At the same time, others held opposite opinions, calling the movie expertly made and brilliant. It’s no secret that political statements get the public to talking and taking sides, and McKay surely accomplished that. 

Don’t Look Up’s end-of-the-world storyline isn’t new, but its commentary on how the internet and the entertainment industry capitalizes on disaster is relatively fresh. 

The film also boasts a star-studded cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Timothee Chalamet, and more. 

DiCaprio and Lawrence play the roles of Dr. Randall Mindy and Kate Dibiasky, two low level scientists at Michigan State University who discover a meteor approaching earth. 

They are tasked with delivering the news of the soon-to-strike meteor to the President and the country. 

Upon sharing their findings, Mindy and Dibiasky realize the American people don’t want the truth, a frighteningly similar reality to the world we live in today. They’re turned into jokes and memes. Their factual discoveries are rejected outright. Even more than that, some demographics repurpose the meteor as a catalyst for potential job creation.

 Don’t Look Up is a bold satire, which likely provides explanation for its criticism, and its plot screams a big warning for its American viewers. It has no happy ending, the characters are not likable, and it holds up a mirror to the ugly side of society. Don’t Look Up makes its overarching message clear: it’s an allegory for climate change. 

I wonder if scientists cried out “Amen” while watching.

This movie is about real life. 

Streep and Hill’s roles as President and Chief of Staff were criticized for their on-the-nose depiction of the United States’ government. But at the same time, do we not sit and watch as American Presidents have defended immoral ideologies? While watching the movie, you think there is no way the American public would actually act so ignorantly in real life. Yet, we live among people too stubborn to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Don’t Look Up is both terrible and brilliant. It is both hard and good. The extremes and the intensity of the movie may incline you to dislike it, but we must pay attention to the message underneath. How we are living right now is simply not working. 

With themes that mock sayings like “Let’s keep refusing to trust scientists,” “Let’s believe that scientists aren’t right when they say the earth is dying,” “Let’s keep trusting social media before a trusted source,” and “Let’s stay comfortable,” it is obvious what message this movie is trying to send. 

You may critique the Don’t Look Up all you want, but think about why. You may call it unrealistic but think about how. We need to get more comfortable with looking in the mirror. 

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