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"Don't Look Up" 4K Review

Note: This review was started back in late-December 2021 and completed in late-March 2022 which is why it references events after the viewing date which determines posting time.

Once upon a time Adam McKay was a Saturday Night Live writer who had transitioned to making some minor classic comedies with Will Ferrell in the Aughts including Anchorman, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Stepbrothers, and The Other Guys; highly quotable bro comedies which still entertain. Then he won an Oscar for his screenplay for The Big Short, the peppy dramatization of the housing bubble that crashed the economy in 2008 and decided his future was to make rabidly political films expressing the rage of wealthy Hollywood liberals against everything they loathe; things like Republicans and those who don't obey their fearmongering about global warming climate change. 

His first effort in this vein was 2018's Vice, his attack on former Vice President Dick Cheney which garnered eight Academy Award nominations (only winning for Best Makeup) despite flopping at the box office and polarizing even normally lefty critics who hated Cheney, but weren't going to give a pass to what McKay made, criticizing the smug, scattered, Oscar-nominated script. (I tried watching it and it didn't grab me, wasting Christian Bale's typically committed performance in favor of the usual Republican-hating, thus never finished it.) 

Now McKay is back, this time burning Netflix's money with a ham-handed parable about people not buying Teslas or Priuses to save the planet as ordered by celebs who travel in CO2-belching private jets, Don't Look Up. With a Oscar-baiting cast of Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Mark Rylance, Cate Blanchett, and Meryl Streep, as well as nominees Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet, plus famous people like Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, and Tyler Perry, it's being sold as a biting satire about how people ignore bad news about the world ending, but it's just a scattershot hodgepodge of occasional laughs punctuated with screaming fits about how people aren't listening to the data. (Get it? Nudge, nudge!)

It opens with the discovery by Lawrence's Kate, a MSU astronomy PhD candidate discovering a new comet. When her professor, Randall (DiCaprio) calculates its orbit, he realizes it will directly hit Earth in six months, killing everything unless something is done. He contacts the head of NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, Teddy (Rob Morgan), so he can take it to the President Orlean (Streep) who is embroiled in a bizarre sex scandal involving her Supreme Court pick. She and her chief of staff son Jason (Hill) blow off the threat because of course they do.

 Deciding to take the news public, Kate and Randall appear on a morning show hosted by Jack (Perry) and Brie (Blanchett) who also blow it off prompting Kate to erupt in outrage over how no one is taking this existential threat seriously. (GET IT??????) Focus group testing shows the sheeple don't like the screaming woman and she becomes a meme while Randall tests positively, leading to a makeover and eventually an affair with the shallow Brie. 

Plans to divert the comet are thwarted when one of Orlean's top donors, Peter Isherwell (Rylance, doing his green part by recycling his Ready Player One character), a Steve Jobs-Bill Gates-Rain Man mashup, determines there are trillions of dollars of rare earth minerals which could be mined so instead of blowing it up, how about trying to capture it?

Naturally, it all goes very sideways and Earth's doom is sealed, but the Official Narrative from the White House is that there's nothing wrong and to keep people from noticing that ever-growing comet in the sky, launch a campaign suggesting "Don't Look Up" (roll credits!) while Randall and Kate, who is now working retail and having a relationship with a teen shoplifter (Chalamet), counter with a "Just Look Up" campaign, driven by a pop song by Grande's character.

 Setting aside the fact that ManBearPig (South Park's brilliant formulation of the man-made climate change terror) is a hoax and everyone involved in the making of this movie is a hypocrite, Don't Look Up is simply a sloppy, poorly-written movie that lacks focus and fails at its central conceit; namely that the media would downplay a disaster in the making. 

For the past 20+ years we have been clobbered with neverending doomsaying about how the planet is on fire when temperatures hit the 90s in August - what used to be called "summer" in the Before Times - and all the polar bears will drown and we will never have snow in winter by 2020 which was news to me as I shoveled my drive and sidewalk a half-dozen times this winter. Western energy policy is causing gas prices to soar over $4.00/gal because of this hoax and the shrieking tantrums of a weird teenage Swedish girl. 

Add on the past two years of absolute terror fomented by the media about Hot Fad Plague - where anyone who points out face diapers are useless to stop an aerosolized respiratory virus and that hastily-produced, insufficiently-tested, ineffective and harmful gene therapeutics mislabeled "vaccines" (whose definition was rewritten to mask their failure) aren't helping will get you unpersoned from social media and labeled as "wanting to kill Grandma" and a "science denier" - for a movie to claim that the media would not go bananas at the prospect of whipping up another global panic requires viewers to have not paid a lick of attention to what the media has done for decades. 

I have been appalled at how many of my FaceSpace friends have burbled about how "great" Don't Look Up is and one even messaged me to recommend it to their sorrow. That it managed to snag FOUR freaking Academy Award nominations - for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Editing, and Score - just seals how absolutely bereft of credibility the Oscars are in today's insane woketarded times. That this piece of dross with a freaking 56% Rotten Tomatoes score, meaning almost half of generally liberal critics weren't willing to give a movie which they agree with the message a pass, got nominated for Best Picture while House of Gucci got skunked just shows that, same as with Licorice Pizza's nomination, they're just picking based on box-checking and political tribalism.

Now you may be thinking, "Dirk, you just don't like it because you disagree with it's stupid wrong-headed politics." If I was dinging it for that, I would say so. The problem with Don't Look Up is that it fails miserably while demanding we respect it for its intentions which is like of the server brought you a plate of crunchy pasta, cold sauce, rancid mushrooms and a slice of American cheese melted in a microwave over the top and told we needed to leave an extra big tip because the cook intended to make a tasty Italian dish. 

The warning signs were present in the trailers which hinted that the "humor" would be of the sort where people yell back and forth at each other and that's most of the movie. Between DiCaprio's sweaty nervous wreck of Randall to Hill's more-assholeish-than-usual Jason to Lawrence's dour uncharismatic performance (what happened to her? She went from America's Darling to a sour miserable box office poison in less than five years), most of the performances are broad and noisy and not particularly funny. When Chalamet shows up with his typical damp emo boy delivery, it's like his in a different, not-particularly-better movie.

 That's not to say there aren't some big laughs, except almost without exception they are throwaway gags, not main plot dialog. For example, when people are watching Grande's pop tart on TV, someone notices that their phone just bought her song without his input, an oblique reference to when Apple rammed a terrible U2 album into people's iTunes libraries. (After enough of those kinds of gags occured in the first 45 minutes, I remarked to the missus that I bet that the funniest lines would be throwaways. I was right.) 

Even when people tried to humor my distaste for this movie, they tried - again to their great regret - to claim that the movie made valid points about the uselessness of "news" media. WRONG! When you live in a timeline where Network and Wag The Dog exist, you don't get to pity f*ck a half-assed corn-flecked log of mediocrity like Don't Look Up in this dojo.

Network won the legendary Paddy Chayefsky his third screenwriting Oscar and remains prescient and brilliant about the impending rise of "infotainment", the unholy melding of news and frivolity, nearly a half-century after its 1976 debut. The phrase, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" originated there and it was nominated for FIVE acting awards, taking home three (Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress) vs. a big fat zero for Don't Look Up. It's my 2nd favorite movie of all time.

1997's Wag The Dog was co-written by legendary playwright David Mamet and told the story of a President who attempts to distract from a sex scandal by launching a fake war against Albania, staged on TV by fixer Robert De Niro and movie producer Dustin Hoffman (who got a Best Actor nomination while no one in Don't Look Up got one). When Bill Clinton got caught using Monica Lewinsky as a humidor and started bombing countries populated by brown people, a much less Praetorian media than today's state propagandists bluntly asked if he was "wagging the dog." 

No one will ever ask if anything in reality is echoing Don't Look Up. Because it's not a movie with an real idea in its empty head, but a virtue-signalling wank by a cabal of extremely wealthy people to make the rubes feel that THEY are the problem with the world with their desire for a single-family home and two cars in the suburbs and not morally superior folk like DiCaprio who owns multiple houses, condos, mansions and a freaking island which he jets between in his own private jet while demanding you drive a golf cart. GFY, Leo.

Scattered like corn nuggets in a poop log are some potentially rich veins for commentary that could've been mined by an intellectually adept screenwriter. Too bad that Adam McKay isn't one. In the mid-credit scene, when the space ark carrying the few surviving people of Earth arrives and lands on their new planet, he chooses to pay off a weird gag set up earlier instead of noting that while they saved the wealthiest and most "important" people from extinction, everyone you see is OLD, as in highly unlikely to be able to have children so humanity is just a matter of time away from disappearing from the universe. (This is the same reason why the end of Snowpiercer is so bad. It doesn't matter if the world is starting to thaw; no one in the crashed train will survive to see it livable.)

Score: 4/10. Skip it.  Go watch Network (currently on Hobo Max) or Wag The Dog (on Hoopla, which your public library card may allow access to) instead.


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