Don’t look up: close for more comfort

When graduate student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) at Michigan State University, working on her doctorate in astronomy, discovers a new and very large comet, everyone begins to rejoice. For a student this is a big deal, but as his teacher Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) does the trajectory calculations, they realize that now is not the time to party because the comet heading straight for Earth. The pair rushed to Washington DC to meet with Dr Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan) and current President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep). But their message of impending doom if we don’t act immediately is being swept aside because of politics. The rest of the story shows how the pair keep trying to warn the public, but few are ready to take it seriously. It shows how corporate greed influences politics. It shows how social media affects our thoughts and beliefs and how today’s society will believe what it reads on the net, even if it contradicts peer-reviewed science.

The cast for this film is incredible, with multiple Oscar winners and box office draws. But it’s not “that” type of science fiction movie. It’s not Deep impact Where Armageddon. This is a satirical comedy about our government, with very subtle and less subtle caricatures of the people in our current political system. Maryl Streep President Janie Orlean is a Trumpian type character with several scandals occurring just around the midterm elections. She plays the part in an almost ridiculous way and really brings out a lot of the buffoonery of the character she is parodying. Including nepotism, as his son Jason (Jonah Hill) is his chief of staff and the choice of unqualified white supremacists in positions for political purposes. Like an anesthesiologist at the head of NASA. Once the comet is visible in the sky and the “Just Look Up” movement begins, the President rallies her supporters by chanting “Don’t Look Up”. It sounds remarkably like “Lock Her Up,” an infamous song by Trump during his successful presidential campaign. There are also obvious parallels between our previous president’s handling of the Covid epidemic and the main plot of this film. The film was announced in late 2019 but was written in 2020 as the debate over how to handle the Covid situation unfolded.

I found the movie quite enjoyable, with several laughing moments, but it’s a bit slow and it loses a bit of its focus, but still delivers a strong movie. Jennifer Lawrence is perfect in her role, which is not surprising since Adam McKay wrote the role for her. It fits his style of comedy. What stands out is a character you can relate to and who has the strength to see what’s going on and say “WTF” to all the madness surrounding the situation. Leo plays a down-to-earth man who gets carried away by his newfound fame and wanders off a bit, but ultimately gets back on track. The script is witty and the quality of the production feels real and a bit gritty, even with all the humor. Many of the most urgent speeches on our situation are unaccompanied by underlining, which gives a very harsh reality to the dialogue.


Adam McKay, who wrote, directed and produced the film, sends us a harsh message here. As humans we are spoiling this world, and there are a lot of scientists, with hard-hitting data, shouting into cameras that we need to act fast or we might not have a world to save, but politics and companies that are too concerned about money and profit have distracted and confused us enough not to trust current science. This film, as funny as it is, strikes us harder than many dramas. The question is, shall we take it into account!

Daniel K. Denny