26 January 2022 560 Views

Don’t Look Up Review. Satirical. Topical. But so much more!

by James Murphy

A LOT of buzz surrounding this film, for good and ill. Many a commentator treating the movie as political treatise rather than simply a solid piece of film. 

My advice? IGNORE the political chat surrounding DON’T LOOK UP. It is not helpful to an objective criticism, either as fan or foe of a film. Yes, context matters. But content is key. If a movie is fun, engaging, well acted/lit/edited etc? Then one can dissect its politics separately.

Indeed, film criticism generally is now plagued by a trend whereby the online attackers ascribe agenda to the piece. Thereby, ironically, insulating the makers from rather than opening them to, truly open debate on movie merits.


So let’s start from that premise. Is DON’T LOOK UP about Trump? NO! Is it even enviro-scare mongering? I argue a ‘no’ on that.

What is it, so? Here we go:

  • It is a sci-fi thriller with a ticking clock on meteor hitting earth.
  • There is a satirical, social commentary at work here.
  • IE: people would rather tune in and be distracted by celebrity gossip than listen to proper, scientific advice.
  • Yes, the President is played for laughs (Meryl Streep; brilliant and beautiful, as always). But this could be any administration, in any era. Each and every POTUS is somewhat susceptible to media manipulation and polling concerns over policy.
  • An element of domestic morality is in evidence here, too. As in the moral of not being seduced and thereby compromised by fame and all its glittering allure.
  • That dynamic is captured, perfectly, by Leeeeooo DiCaprio. He convinces me as the Professor tasked with taking down the comet but he is equally adept at conveying human frailty and weakness, seduced by Cate Blanchett at her all time sexiest as a predatory news anchor-woman.
  • In effect therefore, DON’T LOOK UP is an ensemble, variety, multi-genre movie. Hot topics addressed, explained, dramatised. Comedy and sci-fi frame the entirety. That means it never fails to fascinate.


It is an ADAM MCKAY product. Ergo genre and tone are muddled, pace runs out, losing rather than gaining momentum, unlike the comet. Tendency toward lecturing us on occasion, albeit NOT in the ‘woke’ manner portrayed by legions of trolls online. And some shameless filler and cameos which are not as fun or clever as perhaps McKay thinks? But good, thought provoking stuff as ever from the man. 

Mark Rylance and Jonah Hill play versions of characters they have done before and better. They feel redundant to the point of irritation. Jennifer Lawrence is fine here but, given her being a kind of latter day Streep, it feels a shame that the two actors did not get more time together?

On the whole? Recommended, albeit with a few reservations. Not the propaganda piece some feared but equally no masterpiece. You’ll enjoy it as a fusion of Robert Altman, Fay Weldon and Nora Ephron via Michael Bay? Judge for yourself on Netflix, available now. Grade A- 


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