The image is from the movie "Niko Tavernise."
Don't Look Up is a comedy about a comet that is destroying the planet. Adam McKay, best known for movies like Step Brothers and Anchorman, is the writer and director of the film. Over its long run time, it slowly becomes something else. There is a kind of desperate hope that comes from laughing. It is a trajectory that serves as an eerie mirror to the last two years of the Pandemic.
Don't Look Up doesn't waste time. Randall and Kate from Michigan State discovered a comet that was between five and 10 kilometers wide. The excitement of discovery is quickly turned to dread as the pair realize that it is on a collision course with Earth and will cause an extinction event in six months. They rushed to the White House to inform the president, played by Meryl Streep, but were left waiting for hours as she dealt with nude models. The president and her chief of staff debate the political ramifications of revealing that everyone is about to die ahead of the elections. The president told them that she would have her own people from an Ivy League school assess things.
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It would be ridiculous if it didn't feel right. The only thing that matters to everyone on the planet is finding a way to avoid the destruction of all life, which gets drowned out by election season and a celebrity break up. The contrast is played up for laughs early on, as the astronomer struggle to get their message across because no one wants to hear bad news. They are told to keep things light on the show. Kate becomes a meme when she tells the hosts that everyone is going to die.
The absurdism that mirrors our reality is aided by a tremendous cast. This movie has a lot of talent. Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi are perfect for a pop star power couple, and I could watch them all day long. Lawrence does an amazing job of channeling the anger I would be feeling in her position. Other actors do great work with smaller but vital roles, such as Ron Perlman as a racist war hero. Everyone brings it.
Don't Look Up gets uncomfortably real as good humor gives way. The message becomes polarizing once it gets out there. Randall becomes a social media star, a hunky scientist who is the face of the government's constantly shifting plan to try to distract the comet, while Kate becomes a pariah because of her realist attitude. A chunk of space rock that will destroy life on Earth ends up creating political divides. Some people are terrified and others don't believe it's real. While working class voters are hopeful about the jobs the comet will provide, an evil tech mogul salivates at all of the rare Earth metals it contains. Randall was forced to ask what the point of trillions of dollars is if we are all dead. He was laughing out of the room.
The population argue instead of working together to ensure their survival. The past two years on the real planet Earth seem to be far-fetched in the movie. Don't Look Up is an example of the reality of a true crisis during the Pandemic. It could be called goofy or unrealistic, but many of us spent the early days of the Pandemic learning to bake bread while watching Tiger King. Don't Look Up exaggerates a bit, but it's not too far off the mark.
The journey Don't Look Up takes viewers on is fascinating, but the movie is a little too long. I went from laughing at the absurdity of a military general scamming some astronomer out of $20 to being mad at everyone for ignoring the obvious and rooting for the comet. I felt bad for everyone involved when the collision became impossible to ignore. Don't Look Up has a largely dismal outlook on humanity, but it ends on a hopeful note. The credits are where it ends up being hilarious.
I don't know if the film made me realize anything new about myself or my life during the Pandemic, but it was a great way to see it all play out.
Don't Look Up will be hitting theaters on December 10th and then on December 24th.