Don't Look Up (Drama, Comedy, Sci-Fi) (2021)
Director: Adam McKay
Writer: Adam McKay, David Sirota
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Mark Rylance, Meryl Streep
After discovering a massive comet; hurdling towards earth, an astronomy student and her professor scramble to warn the public about this imminent catastrophe. They correspond with NASA and the PDCO (Planetary Defence Coordination Office), who tasks them with informing the president and her staff to take further steps. This all leads to much confusion and disagreement about the actual danger the planet is in and kicks off a media campaign dividing audiences whether they should believe in the whole story or not.
Contacted by writer David Sirota after producing "Vice", Adam McKay was asked to write and direct the screenplay for this climate crisis themed natural disaster movie. With his recent streak of drama/comedies, he seemed to be the perfect fit. Filming was set for April 2020 but ended up being postponed until November of the same year due to COVID-19 restrictions and being released more than a year afterwards.
Like McKay's latest movie, "Vice", this feature film is a blend of drama and dark comedy, although this latest project is more scientific. As a social commentary, it manages to intrigue with drama and surprise with the abundance of humour that pulses within. While it had been delayed due to the coronavirus, it also capitalises on it; despite the theme being tied to natural disasters, it is only logical to link it to our current political situations worldwide as well... Take, for example, a stance further in the film where to groups of voters stand against each other, one deciding to acknowledge the comet and the other group denying it's even there.
However, its first half-hour is anything but cohesive, introducing characters left and right, leaving the audience without any clue who's essential to the script and who's not. Luckily it does start making sense at some point, but that is only near the final half-hour. What seems like a script deficiency near the film's beginning makes more sense near the end.
Most of it blending together eventually, some characters seem entirely unnecessary, mainly the role taken by Timotheé Chalamet. His performance is satisfactory, but this film really didn't need another love interest and certainly not one that is so disconnected from the story as a whole. The entire goal behind it seems to be deepening Lawrence's character's anarchistic behaviour as the clock keeps ticking and the comet moving ever closer to earth. There are also quite a few cameos, such as by popstar Ariana Grande and rapper/singer Kid Cudi. Even Sarah Silverman has a tiny interview segment which does seem to be edited quite a bit to take up little space in the final version.
With as impressive of a cast as "Don't Look Up" includes, this is far from just a trick to gain viewers. It really shows that it's made by a man who understands comedy in every aspect, and as someone who is more often than not let down by sub-par overly try-hard silly spectacle comedies, this is my type of comedy. It's like a comedy within an already exciting and alluring film. It doesn't push what it has too hard and thus achieves the goal of genuinely being funny while also achieving a relatively coherent story.
Whether you're looking down or up, I hope it's at a screen streaming this movie.