“Don’t Look Up” lets viewers down


Photo courtesy of IMDb.

Payton McGlory, Former Contributor

With its enormously expensive celebrity cast and eye-catching trailers, Netflix’s Don’t Look Up was anticipated to finish the year with yet another post-pandemic film triumph. But, even the picture’s star-studded cast could not salvage its redundant plotline and excessively long runtime.

Released on Dec. 5, 2021, director and screenwriter Adam McKay’s long-awaited film features countless familiar faces including renowned actors Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Timotheé Chalamet, and Jennifer Lawrence. The movie follows the tumultuous story of astrophysicists Randall Mindy (DiCaprio) and Kate Dibiasky (Lawrence) as they attempt to save the Earth from almost-certain destruction at the hands of a giant asteroid. This is no easy feat, however, as they are forced to jump through endless hoops and deal with a flippant government and the ignorant general public. As the story progresses, Mindy finds himself gaining fame for this discovery while Dibiasky is shunned from her family and turned into a “meme,” all the while catastrophe is still plummeting towards Earth.

McKay, known for his previous directing and producing work on titles such as Step Brothers and Booksmart, attempts to rescue this depressing plot with witty humor and one-liners, yet most of the jokes never seem to land.

One of the particularly bad aspects of the picture was Jonah Hill’s poorly written moody millennial government official character. He appears as the shallow son of the President of The United States (Streep), who seems to thrive off of ridiculing Dibiasky. While the concept seems like it would be a hit, Hill’s signature comedic relief does not seem to fit with the storyline in a film already riddled with underwhelming jokes. It could be due to the flick premiering at the end of the second COVID-19 pandemic year, but almost all of the “world is ending” jokes seem to play more dismal than funny. 

In addition to its myriad of Oscar-winning actors, the film also features Grammy award-winning musicians Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi who play – wait for it – pop stars. It is so painfully evident that those involved in the making of this movie were focusing less on the content of the film and more on the star factor and “quotability” of its script. There is no doubt that Don’t Look Up’s budget of $75 million was put to good use with its leading cast and notable cameos from celebrities like Chris Evans, yet the Oscar-fishing in this movie was far too obvious, making it difficult to enjoy. 

The wasted potential of this film is immense, as this storyline could have really soared if planned in the direction of an end-of-the-world drama, instead of the sad comedy it was. Don’t Look Up ultimately marks the end of a frustrating year with an even more dissatisfying plot. So, to those who subscribe to Netflix: save yourself the headache and keep scrolling past this film.