Brendan O’Neill in Spiked:
Don’t Look Up is the least subtle allegory of modern times. It is a mallet of a metaphor. It is the bluntest of parables, smashing through TV and tablet screens across the globe and screaming at viewers: ‘This is a film about a comet but REALLY IT IS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.’ They really do scream, especially Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays the clever, sexy scientist Dr Randall Mindy, who, unlike the dentally challenged rednecks he has the misfortune to call his fellow citizens, knows that the comet is real and that it really will hit the Earth. Poor Mindy is in a constant state of apoplexy at fickle, dim mankind, on one occasion bellowing: ‘YOU ARE ALL GOING TO FUCKING DIE.’ Leo, being a green nut himself, really hams it up, revelling in this mad, morally infantile script that gives free rein to his fire-and-brimstone eco-beliefs. Next time you see The Revenant, you’ll root for the bear.
It is hard to describe just how preposterous Don’t Look Up is. Adam McKay’s 145-minute lecture disguised as a movie is on Netflix. (Where else?) It tells the story of two low-level astronomers – Mindy and his punkish PhD student, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) – who spot a comet that is hurtling towards our big, dumb planet. They try to warn humankind, but to little avail. The president of the United States – Meryl Streep as a female Trump – is too busy thinking about the Midterms and the media’s discovery of the fact that she once sent a photo of her vagina to her nominee for the Supreme Court to worry about something as trifling as the extinction of all life on Earth. Let’s sit on it, she says. Businessmen wonder if the arrival of the comet might be a good thing. Think of all the minerals it will contain! Think of how many mobile phones we could make! Evil, money-grubbing capitalists? Original. As for the plebs: they’re far more concerned with celebrity tittle-tattle and earning a living – so vulgar! – than they are with the heat death of humankind.
It really is this unsubtle. It’s like someone reached into the head of a freshly politicised 16-year-old TikToker and turned the contents into a film. It falls to an Expert (Mindy) and a Cool Person (Dibiasky) to try to prise open the eyes of the ignorant throng. These are the heroes of our age in the eyes of the Netflix elites – people with postgraduate degrees and funny-coloured hair. Lawrence as Dibiasky sports a severe, red-dyed fringe – to distinguish her from the billions of normies who don’t care about the comet that’s about to vaporise them – and she goes on TV to weep and wail about the destruction of the planet, like George Monbiot recently did. One good line is when Streep’s president says they should use Dibiasky for media work more often, because she’ll connect with ‘disaffected youth and the mentally ill’. Every time DiCaprio and Lawrence’s characters were on screen, I felt myself turning a bit Betjeman. ‘Come, friendly comet…’ It is sweet relief when they die. (Come on, that doesn’t count as a spoiler – you knew this crap wasn’t going to have a happy ending.)
HT: The Anonymous Professor.