And another movie … ‘Don’t Look Up’

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We continued our movie-watching last night and caught Don’t Look Up, directed by Adam McKay. It is ostensibly about what happens when two scientists (Leo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence) discover a comet heading straight at earth. The movie starts out playing it for laughs, then downshifts into an increasingly frustrated, incredulous satire and pretty dispiriting critique of media, politics and humanity. Which isn’t hard these days, right? (After this and Power of the Dog in the past few days, I’m ready for a hah-hah or romantic comedy. Do these get made anymore?)

That said, neither take seems exactly right for this movie. It is high-strung throughout, and its first hour IS funny, but it’s really working hard for the laughs, and the focus on the media world obscures the film’s ability to hone in on  our common failure to address climate change, which I think is what the movie is really about. The media/political critique calls out all the pertinent bugaboos: our inability to agree on a common set of facts, the politicization of and profiting from everything, our inexhaustible talent for putting off any worthy thing. Eventually, there comes a time in Don’t Look Up when the piper plays and bills must be paid, relationships repaired, etc. But by then, it’s pretty late. I’ll say this: at least the film has the courage of its (lack of) convictions.

A few other things:

  • It has an amazing cast — DiCaprio, Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance, Timothee Chalamet, Jonah Hill, Tyler Perry and Cate Blanchett, even Ariana Grande shows up … and a lot of ridiculous hair.  
  • Between this movie and Apple’s Morning Show, I have never missed not watching morning TV any less. Is The Daily Rip supposed to be Morning Joe, or is it a mashup of all morning TV? If the former, how good was Blanchett’s Mika Brezwhatshername imitation? Can someone compare it to Kate McKinnon’s SNL version? (And kudos to Blanchett, who is a real chameleon. Took me an hour to realize that was her. And I knew she was in the movie.)
  • McKay directed Vice and The Big Short, so he knows how to make these movies. No doubt BS is the best of the bunch. He really nailed the tone in that one (as M.G. Siegler points out here). Not so much Don’t Look Up, which I think could have used one of those Xanax’s Lawrence keeps stealing from DiCaprio.
  • Too, too long. Easily could have lost half of the movie’s second half.

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