Don't Look Up (2021)
December 25, 2021 9:51 AM - Subscribe

Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.

Michigan State PhD candidate Kate Dubiasky spots a comet. Her professor, Randall Mindy, does the math and realizes that the comet will hit Earth and wipe out all humanity in six months. They attempt to tell the world, which doesn't go terribly well since the president is a blinking idiot and she listens to a rich donor who decides the priority is to save the comet for its rich minerals instead. Everyone is stupid on social media. Beyond that, I'll discuss even more spoiler stuff in the actual post.
posted by jenfullmoon (95 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This is a very potent movie, albeit I dunno if I'd say I thought it was a good idea to make it a Christmas release since it's an apocalypse movie and ends with (presumably) the entire human race dying out. (There is a mid-credits scene and an end credits scene, so don't end watching during the credits quite yet.) It's got An All Star Cast, which is why my mom's boyfriend decided he wanted to see it, but I suspect it's going to be a giant bomb because it's such a downer and we already have major downers going on in the world as is, and this really satirizes how stoopid Americans have gotten over the years, except substitute "comet" for "virus." Though really, it's hard to get even stupider than we currently have in the world, I suppose. There's comet deniers, people doing "launch challenges" by shooting themselves in the face, and I don't think anyone pays attention until Ariana Grande does a song about it. There's a "look up!" social media tag, and then of course a "don't look up!" one from the president.

Like presumably we deserve to die for our own collective stupidity, and those in power are going to do whatever they want to regardless of anything. It reminded me of the whole "stop Culloden" plot in the Outlander books (and I presume TV show, I drifted off from watching that) because there's only so much two people can do in the world when the rest of society is going in the opposite direction. "We tried, didn't we?" is how things end for our hapless protagonists, having one last meal together before the end. They tried and in the end nothing they could do worked because the people in power are fucking selfish morons.

The president and her son are based on the Trumps, everyone's far more into sex scandals and whoever Ariana Grande is dating, the only reason the president even decides to do anything about the comet is to distract from sex scandals. Everyone would rather meme Kate's "we're all going to fucking die!" face and she and Randall end up literally screaming in public when nobody is listening. Randall gets white male privilege instead of being ignored (is anyone paying attention to Teddy? What's he doing?) or made fun of/shunned to some degree and gets dubbed an "astronomer I'd like to fuck" and the job of White House science advisor, but people still won't listen to him anyway, even if he does get to fuck a hot blonde TV lady.

And then the president throws the "deflect the comet" plan away when a rich guy donor wants to save the comet for its rich minerals and just have it break up into pieces on the planet instead. My mom's boyfriend, a retired nuclear physicist, said he used to work on comet stuff and you definitely want to deflect rather than have it blow up here, and that work made him very tired so he eventually quit it. Of course, technological failures happen and everyone dies, except for those in the end credits and those people probably end up biting it pretty quickly too.

For a comedy, there's a lot of comedic-ish things, but you don't end up laughing. I think it's a pretty well done movie (albeit kinda long) and it certainly fits our stupid death times, but who's the audience for it? Who wants to see this level of depressing, especially right now? But it was interesting to watch, at least. My mom's boyfriend said he was shaken up, but nobody's going to listen, and that is certainly correct.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:20 AM on December 25, 2021 [12 favorites]

Thanks, it was very big in local news when it was filming in Boston, so will want to see it but will wait until I can handle a downer story.

I did notice they use Musk as a punchline in a trailer, what will annoy me is if there is an actual solution, like all the countries building "Starships" to do a nudge, which at the moment seems just at the "possible not totally scifi" there could've been a more optimistic end credits scene.
posted by sammyo at 12:33 PM on December 25, 2021

I love a good disaster/apocalypse film (ok, I like the bad ones too, they are mostly bad ones...) but I'm not sure I can handle 2 hours of JLaw's HAIR. wtaf is up with those bangs? is that some sort of horrifically mangled wig???? did a toddler give her that haircut???

I'll probably still watch...
posted by supermedusa at 12:42 PM on December 25, 2021

That's pretty much my reaction to the movie as well. It's kind of slow, and it's kind of not-funny. Part of the problem is that the climate change situation is a little too serious to laugh about; like if they released Idiocracy while we were in the middle of a famine caused by soil salinization. Part of the problem is that in 2022, it is no longer possible or useful to satirize the Republican Party, all that is needed is to stop them from being able to affect the world in any way. There are other issues: it is difficult to believe De Caprio hooking up with anyone older than 25 years old, it is difficult not to see the movie as part of the same babble of distracting trivia that the movie critiques.

Despite all that, I thought the ending at the dinner table worked? And I did like the Pentagon-snack-scammer as a sort of central mystery of the human race.
posted by Balna Watya at 12:44 PM on December 25, 2021 [15 favorites]

I forgot to mention my mom's boyfriend being all "there's no way they have those life pods that last for 22,000 years either."

I don't know on J.Law's too-short bangs (or Leo's original beard) but I did read some description of them being plained-up for the movie, which makes sense. He really looks average these days, not a prettyboy heartthrob like he used to be.

"it is difficult to believe De Caprio hooking up with anyone older than 25 years old,"

posted by jenfullmoon at 1:19 PM on December 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

This was deliberately infuriating. It feels better about 2/3rd of the way in when the setup starts paying off, but that's probably the heavy drinking talking. This has a looong runtime.

I liked the extended riff on the bag over Dibiasky's head.

Blanchett's character was good at pointing out the boot-licking self-loathing mercenary nature of popular (fascist) media. Nice to see Chalamet broadening his roles.

I had mostly written off DiCaprio the last decade, but I thought that he was legitimately good at breathing believability into the character - especially the on-camera rant and pharmaceuticals-fueled "mid"-life crisis avoidance.

lol - DiCaprio's character listening to "♪ I still feel 25, most of the time, I still raise a little Cain with the boys. Honky tonks and pretty women... ♪"

(Sir) Mark Rylance is excellent as the (infuriating) Isherwood* (Bash CEO) character at pointing out how damaging the concept of billionaires (and how they come to, and continue to, be) are to humanity and the end-stage cancer that unfettered regulatory capture aspect of capitalism is turning out to be.

Sorry, but I'm finding the try-hard moniker for Jennifer Lawrence as dumb, confusing, and dismissive.

[Shovels --- Only $599.99]

"Is that a rock-solid ten smokeshow of a president or what? If she wasn't my mother... There's three types of American people. There are you, the working class. Us, the cool rich, and then them."

Jonah Hill isn't a good enough actor to act dumb enough to be a Trump scion (Eric).

That's a cool [PEACE/skintones/genderspectrum] flag next door to the Mindy home in place of the American flag.

This looked like an expensive movie.

*is this a dark backhand reference to 'Earth Abides' (1949)?
posted by porpoise at 5:13 PM on December 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Yeah, this was too on the nose to really work, and it could've been a 10 minute sketch. That said, the Bash CEO was definitely a high point... He was sort of a twenty-first century Doctor Strangelove, but parodying silicon valley and late capitalism rather than mutually assured destruction.
posted by condour75 at 5:51 PM on December 25, 2021 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I kind of wish they'd leaned in to the farce aspect a little bit more a little sooner, because it probably takes too long to really get going there? Like, there were a few scenes where it was obvious where they were going, but they were taking their sweet old time to get there.

Good lord Chalamet scumballs up nicely, as it were.
posted by Kyol at 5:52 PM on December 25, 2021 [7 favorites]

We watched it last night, xmas eve, and I loved it. I didn't take it too seriously. My wife thought the president was very Iron Sky 2. I thought it was great social satire and worked very nicely as that. I thought it was brilliant to cast Rylance in that role, considering it's basically the same role he took on for Ready Player One.

The comet hitting the Earth is well explored in These Final Hours, which ends on a similar (depressing) note.
posted by Catblack at 6:29 PM on December 25, 2021 [8 favorites]

Like a less-funny Candide, except nearly 100% of the people die at the end. Definitely more depressing than funny, especially once the celebrity anti-asteroid message started getting everyone mobilized to....uh, do nothing. But this is notable as the movie that made me finally admit that Chalamet is a pretty charming (amiably scummy) screen presence. (I always think I'm too cranky to like The Youth -- anyone younger than Jennifer Lawrence -- but I give up, he's great.)

Everyone was way too nice to DiCaprio at the end. I guess I'm a terrible person, but I think I'd have taken advantage of my last night on earth to strangle the guy (especially when he Opined on the Blues). I loved the scenes where DiCaprio and Lawrence's characters finally spotted the asteroid with the naked eye. They were weirdly not-bleak, like meteorologists getting excited about unusual weather events even though they understand climate change is destroying man's ability to survive on the planet.

The Ark...made Douglas Adam's Ark B look positively survival oriented. I don't think they'd have fared well even without getting eaten by dinosaurs.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:10 PM on December 25, 2021 [7 favorites]

it is difficult not to see the movie as part of the same babble of distracting trivia that the movie critiques.

The funniest part of the whole experience, from my perspective, is all the complaints about how this movie isn't funny enough.
posted by flabdablet at 10:37 PM on December 25, 2021 [11 favorites]

Also I like how the comet moves fast and breaks things.
posted by flabdablet at 10:39 PM on December 25, 2021 [14 favorites]

The dinner scene depressed me and now I am done
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 11:20 PM on December 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Twenty years ago this film would have killed at the box office. I would like to think that in twenty years it will be seen as something that can be shown to teens that explains a bit of why their parents are kinda f'd up. Right now Poe's Law is in full effect and all I could think towards the end was that at least the comet could be seen. The, "Hey, they've been lying to us line," was pure wish-fulfillment and I was all for it. The entire lack of a contemporary bite is due to the fact that to go far enough to be satire it would need to have the Qanon/MAGA stand-ins eating live babies to rather than get vaccinated look up. And given the small percentage of folk who don't get satire the consequences aren't worth it.

Honorable mention to Chris Evans for playing such a gratuitous a-hole that I wanted to drop-kick the character into a hornet's nest in less than thirty seconds.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 11:22 PM on December 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

my region right now is currently being slammed, being typhoon season. The Philippines is getting the worst of it, but after decades of human malpractice even my supposedly safe country is getting the impact of it too. I preface with that to say that I supremely enjoyed this movie and how dark and on-the-nose it got. Maybe that's the catharsis I need, and more than that, considering the political climate, now that we have this movie, it's really quite handy to be able to talk about it in a popular way. That said, maybe that's very much down to cultural appetite. I mean, the last time we came together as a region to commiserate about climate change and government malfeasance in this year was a whole week of memes about how our respective national administrations are so generously designing swimming pools in the middle of the street. So this is definitely on my register.
posted by cendawanita at 4:19 AM on December 26, 2021 [13 favorites]

A little too long and a little too toothless to be the really biting satire I wanted, but not a bad watch. A solid "alright, then" for a watch on a frigid Christmas afternoon.
posted by nubs at 8:23 AM on December 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

I read one review characterizing it as "darker than Dr. Strangelove" which is a movie I adore. This not nearly as good a film, but the reviewer may have been (unintentionally?) right because Dr. S. was clearly exaggerated, but "Don't Look Up" is basically reality, and therefore more depressing than amusing.

The script was mostly paint by numbers until the introduction of the Bash CEO character, which was a very nice turn, and Rylance plays it brilliantly. He and Blanchett made the movie, as far as I'm concerned.

While watching, I was betting with myself whether it would end with the earth completely destroyed or only partially destroyed and they took the easy way out. Climate change is going to cause a lot more suffering that everyone simply being extinguished like a candle.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:42 AM on December 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

He and Blanchett made the movie, as far as I'm concerned.

And their fake teeth, which I couldn't unsee once noticed.
posted by cendawanita at 8:51 AM on December 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

C+ no better or worse. The president was too over the top dumb comedy. coulda worked better as a straight up selfish jerk.

jonah hill is a terrific actor, given the right script and direction. solid B for war dogs. *amazing* work in maniac, which is a particular kind of film that maybe isn't everyone's cup of tea. just a minor supporting comic foil in this, which is ok.

to the point - don't look up was an ok film, pulled in too many different directions. i enjoyed the watch. dicaprio and lawrence were fine. i liked that neither were presented as hyper glamorous beauties. chalamet was nearly suprfluous, but he really came through at dinner. it was a nice moment. probably my fave scene of the film.

back to back with 'seeking a friend for the end of the world' it's really outclassed. but a semi-serious moment about the end of it all really takes a performer who can bring the pathos and carrol killed it.

lots to talk about with writing, direction, and editing missteps, but all-in-all, that's a hollywood money problem not a performance problem. a bad team.

I wouldn't dissuade anyone from watching, but I won't be going out my way to recommemd it...*maybe* to someone whose following the lawrence development from winter's bone forward.

quite a career with wins and losses. this was a good break from the pure as snow glamorous hero of the hunger games hangover, and the hard-bitten damage of silver linings.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:30 AM on December 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Too long & depressing because reality has proved to be too ridiculous to satirize, but I think it may pick up a reputation as a cult classic like Office Space, and that twenty years from now, as we run air conditioners ten months out of the year and watch the rebuilding efforts, it will be called underappreciated and prophetic. Maybe ten years from now.

I loved the runner with the snack-scammer. A true mystery.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:28 AM on December 26, 2021 [6 favorites]

The BASH scheme was too competent! It failed, but it wasn't a total scam. I kinda think that the people this parody was based on would have done something even stupider.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:12 PM on December 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

Honorable mention to Chris Evans for playing such a gratuitous a-hole that I wanted to drop-kick the character into a hornet's nest in less than thirty seconds.

Chris Evans wasn’t in this, or I missed something.

I’m with the “meh” crowd. It just didn’t really stick any of the landings for me, despite some bright spots shining through.
posted by jimw at 12:25 PM on December 26, 2021

He was the actor trying to both-sides looking up _and_ down. Blink and you missed him.
posted by Kyol at 12:39 PM on December 26, 2021 [8 favorites]

*is this a dark backhand reference to 'Earth Abides' (1949)?

Oh, good call. I think so, given the coda.
posted by doctornemo at 2:09 PM on December 26, 2021

I'm not sure about it.

It's damned preachy. This is full on satire in its attack mode. The idiots are irredeemable. And it explains itself far too many times.

Which works for me at times. I feel like this when I talk about climate change in many groups, especially academia. I despise celebrity culture. I hate tv "news." I'm not fan of Trump (the US president is clearly at least 1/2 Trump). I like scientists. I hate when people within and outside of academia get snobby about university standings. Etc. So I admit my bias in favor of these points the movie hammers.

Some of the comedy falls flat. There is some schtick that's pointless, like a cash-grubbing general. The president isn't really funny.

Some of the gags work. The president's chief of staff is perfect.

A character from what starts as a B plot, a Silicon Valley zillionaire, is brilliant, a weird mix of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg (there's an explicit Cambridge Analytica callout), Mr. Rogers (yes), and generic TED talker. Creepy several times.

The ending is surprisingly moving and funny.

Ultimately it reminded me of Ben Winters' superb Last Policeman trilogy, about a New Hampshire cop trying to do his job as the end of the world via asteroid draws nigh. Those books are far better.
posted by doctornemo at 2:14 PM on December 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

The comet hitting the Earth is well explored in These Final Hours, which ends on a similar (depressing) note.

Melancholia too, though in that film it's another planet coming toward Earth versus a comet. Much bigger.

The dinner scene depressed me and now I am done

Stay away from Melancholia then (if you haven't already seen it). It has a couple of group meal scenes that seem sadly real.

Ultimately it reminded me of Ben Winters' superb Last Policeman trilogy, about a New Hampshire cop trying to do his job as the end of the world via asteroid draws nigh. Those books are far better.

Great trilogy. I have mixed feelings about it being developed into a limited TV series but according to Wikipedia, a few months ago Fox optioned a pilot to be called The Last Police.
posted by fuse theorem at 3:10 PM on December 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

There is some schtick that's pointless, like a cash-grubbing general.

I want to know if that was based on a real event. Grifting them for snack money didn't work for me, but the way it needled Dibiasky the rest of the movie did. It's similar to the story of Trump making sure he gets an extra scoop of ice cream compared to his guests. The sheer pettiness of it sticks more than a lot of actual bad things that adminsistration did.
posted by Gary at 5:15 PM on December 26, 2021 [13 favorites]

I want to know if that was based on a real event.

I've seen it posited elsewhere that it wasn't based on a specific event or a particular administration. Instead--perhaps--it was a commentary on the ability of the Pentagon/Defense Department to ask for and get whatever funding they want, because it's generally considered impolitic to deny or question what they say they need to protect the country. Then later we find out about $50 hammers or screwdrivers, and weapon systems which are obsolete when they are finally completed after massive delays and cost overruns.

Dibiasky saw such presumption play out on a small, interpersonal level and was galled not only by the general's audacity but also by the others' lack of concern about it.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:53 PM on December 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

I guessed another aspect to Dibiasky and the general was just to show that she had a scientist's curiosity - an unexplained thing which goes against what she knows about the world happened, and she won't be happy until she's figured out why. From the script writer's point of view, maybe there's an answer, maybe not, but either way it says something about scientists that she doesn't let it go.

(In a strange way we see the tech CEO solve a similar mystery - what is a Bronteroc? He succeeds because he has the resources and patience to wait for the answer. And not let wondering about it interfere with living his life.)
posted by mistersix at 6:04 PM on December 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

Loved it.
Every time they mention Chile we let out a cheer, especially at the rally near the end where they warn about Chileans crossing the border illegally.

Ariana Grande was perfect:

Look up, what he's really trying to say
Is get your head out of your ass
Listen to the goddamn qualified scientists
We really fucked it up, fucked it up this time
It's so close, I can feel the heat big time
And you can act like everything is alright
But this is probably happening in real time
Celebrate or cry or pray, whatever it takes
To get you through the mess we made
'Cause tomorrow may never come

And the 'don't look up' rally where the people just look up and see the friggin' comet was basically fan service for anybody who's followed US and world politics the past few decades or so.
posted by signal at 6:16 PM on December 26, 2021 [20 favorites]

Watch Aniara after this for the story on how the generation ships would likely end up
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 6:17 PM on December 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

Aniara's great, but given the folks who got on the space ark, I'd say Avenue 5 might be a better fit.
posted by condour75 at 6:23 PM on December 26, 2021 [10 favorites]

It's slow, for sure. But there are so many brilliantly observed characters in this, I really enjoyed watching all these incredibly talented actors digging into these weird characters.

The one thing that I did wonder was, why is the entire world waiting for the US's dysfunctional political system to do something? China and the EU aren't pursuing their own plans?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:31 PM on December 26, 2021 [6 favorites]

There was some brief mention of Russia/China attempting to do a thing after the American mission was called off, but not much. Something about how they decided to go after the comet after dude techbro cut them out of the mining rights or something or other. Another quick and easy to miss moment.

That was sort of the bit that stuck in my craw - OK, the US president wants to play politics with the discovery (at best) and isn't very interested in it (at worst), there are other nations looking up at the sky that have space programs. But I guess in the broad sense they would have all been doing the same thing the Americans were - either ignoring it or figuring out how to profit off of it.
posted by Kyol at 7:42 PM on December 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I am glad I watched this but it really could have used a hard edit to take it further away from being a slow motion Terence Malick parody.

Meryl Streep was deliciously awful, but maybe not awful enough - the Don’t Look Up crowd seemed more like toned-down reality today than satire, and that was disappointing. But: I do like the perspective shift from Space Heroes or Designated Survivors (the former in the previous asteroid-crash movies, the latter in the first third of Seveneves, Lucifer’s Hammer, etc. ) to actually powerless people. What would have been even more startling and maybe effective would have been less information-privileged perspectives — these events entirely experienced by randos. That would be a satire of both the pandemic and climate change, for sure.
posted by janell at 10:38 PM on December 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

these events entirely experienced by randos

Really dig this idea! Take a few different parties/ points-of-view and how they react to the various reporting sources (popular tv, celebrity culture, sober news, scientific communications, various social media, each other based on what they're primary sources of information were from, etc.) and the conclusion.

But yeah, Streep was not nearly awful enough by an order of magnitude, held back on purpose and left the son/ chief of staff to do the heavy lifting, her awfulness plausibly "both sides."

Kyol - I can't remember any specifics, but my gut feel was that the US sabotaged other nations' efforts on BASH Corp's (supposed financial) behalf. But yeah, more impact if that was made more explicit.

grandiloquiet: Ark B - lol, yeah. When the cryo peeps started walking off the pods naked and obviously unfit and homogenous, that was exactly what I was expecting... but not quite so swiftly and conclusively; Isherwood being all, "... uh, whatever you do, don't pet them." was an effective conclusion.
posted by porpoise at 12:07 AM on December 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

I thought the Russian/Chinese probe may have failed, blown up on the launch pad, because of sabotage by the BASH zillionaire. Also, his rollout of his emotionally sensitive tech in the scene that introduced him also showed how emotionally insensitive he was (the way he ignored as completely beneath him the kids involved in the demo.)
posted by Schmucko at 4:01 AM on December 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

grandiloquiet: " The Ark...made Douglas Adam's Ark B look positively survival oriented. I don't think they'd have fared well even without getting eaten by dinosaurs."

I was expecting a "BtAF: Atlas Shrugged 2: One Hour Later" reference at the end. "Don't servants create lunch?"
posted by signal at 4:21 AM on December 27, 2021 [5 favorites]

"Orlean and BASH cut Russia, India, and China out of the rights for the minerals. So they tried their own joint deflection mission, but, uh... approximately 40 minutes ago, there was a massive explosion detected at the Russian's Baikonur launch complex. So it looks like the mission failed."

Only two hits for "Russia" on the subtitles, which is sort of disappointing. I mean, it doesn't really change the outcome (i.e. other countries had more or less the same response or were howling into the void because they couldn't form a response), but there were a few places where it felt a little parochial.
posted by Kyol at 6:11 AM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I tried watching Don’t Look Up this morning and didn’t get very far. I might go back to it but damn it’s silly that I got my hopes up for this at all. It’s just not written by serious thinkers. I mean the way the government responds is not remotely realistic. They’re not going for realism, I guess, but by depicting the president in a way that no president would act, the film fails to implicate the actual president. A better film would mirror the people we see in power. It would be chilling, not farcical.

Also there is a key element missing from the comet plot which makes it a bad metaphor for climate change - there is no industrial cause for the crisis. If we look at climate change as simply an Act of God we miss the actual reason for denialism, which is denialist propaganda paid for by those who profit from the cause of the crisis. In the comet scenario, there is no material reason for the government to be opposed to survival. The profit motive which makes that happen in real life is absent.

They attempt to justify it by saying the president faces a political battle which must take priority over everything else. I suppose this provides some justification for their attitudes. They are political creatures who care only about their own political survival. But in the real world such people are tools of corporations, who use them to maximize short-term profit at the cost of long-term future externalities. No corporation would advocate short-term planetary destruction because that would contradict their need for short-term profit.

Adam McKay has painted the enemy here as a straw man, whose motivations are senseless and unbelievable. In the real world the enemy has ‘rational’ or at least understandable motivations. Understanding those motivations is the necessary first step in constructing a strategic opposition. Hiding them, as McKay does, makes this movie politically impotent, and potentially sets back the ‘national conversation’ about climate change. A huge missed opportunity. But American film is captured by capital so what should we expect?
posted by confabulous at 9:29 AM on December 27, 2021 [9 favorites]

Confabulous, not suggesting you finish it because it's not that great, but it seems like you turned the film off before you got to the part about the corporations and the profit motive.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:13 AM on December 27, 2021 [8 favorites]

. A better film would mirror the people we see in power. It would be chilling, not farcical.

FWIW, as i predicted, plenty of stills and quotes from the movie and reviews of it (which, unlike Looking For A Friend..., is actually playing here) are doing the rounds here, as a fresh round of monsoon rains are coming in, and being seen as rather quite legit. Can't say i disagree with them, based on personal experience as well. This movie pairs well with Shin Godzilla, and that had a more untruthful note with regards to the US-Japan Pacific alliance.
posted by cendawanita at 10:23 AM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Like, just v v v quick examples, looking up the tag and seeing the top tweets, while American tweets have more of a concerned note about if this is too dark or not realistic enough or wondering who the audience is, a sample Thai tweet; sample Filipino tweet; sample Brazilian one.

I don't think this movie is the best of its kind or any kind of superlative, but i do find a number of concerns about the tone/realism that anticipate audience reaction to be based on perspectives that could stand being expanded.
posted by cendawanita at 10:43 AM on December 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

After watching this last night (and thoroughly enjoying and laughing out loud at it), I found these two pieces to be good:

Abigail Nussbaum: Whither Satire

David Roberts: Don't Look Up: the first good movie about climate change because it isn't about climate change.
posted by General Malaise at 2:03 PM on December 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

"I don't think this movie is the best of its kind or any kind of superlative, but i do find a number of concerns about the tone/realism that anticipate audience reaction to be based on perspectives that could stand being expanded."

No, yeah, I kept being like, "But why is nobody but the Americans planning to nuke the comet? But why do the Americans think they can keep a celestial body secret from the rest of the world and their telescopes? This isn't realistic!" and I kept reminding myself, "Because it's an imperfect metaphor." And also it's about the particular ways in which the US and its politics are FUCKING INSANE, and highlighting American weirdos and American types. (The guy shooting at the comet absolutely killed me, TOO REAL.) Part of my brain was like, "Okay, but would Chile really take $900 million from the BASH CEO to let the comet pieces crash off its coastline and destroy most of the country? Come on." And the other part of my brain was like, "Okay, but you actually know how much of the US's toxic waste burden has been offshored to South America over the last 60 years and you have taught classes focusing on the ethics of that; doing it in slow motion doesn't mean you're not doing it."

Imperfect metaphor, but not wrong.

And I do want to say again, I really, really think the characters were well-observed, and while I may have gripes with the plot, the characters were so clear and nuanced and brought to life so well by the actors. It was a pleasure to watch all these top-notch actors bringing to life all these realistic weirdos in an impossible situation.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:15 PM on December 27, 2021 [16 favorites]

It's also probably why the fact they're all dead resonated with viewers outside US. Most of us don't come from places with the capacity to do anything or with the (substantiated?) fantasy that we have the government capacity to actually blow up a space rock. So it may seem unlikely the US can keep this a secret but it's more likely everywhere else had their Dr Mindy and Kate and no one's listening and that part of elite failure is resonating extremely well. I'm noticing even american POC reactions are along those lines. I think if the audience is used to feeling small in this sort of issue, this movie feels more immediate both in the lightness and darkness of its tone and a lot of those characters feel real. Brazil socmed has been making Bolsonaro vs Orlean memes it seems.
posted by cendawanita at 7:35 PM on December 27, 2021 [6 favorites]

Adam McKay has painted the enemy here as a straw man, whose motivations are senseless and unbelievable. In the real world the enemy has ‘rational’ or at least understandable motivations.

Understandable only if the premises upon which those "rational" motivations rest are delusional. Having long considered the desire to accumulate wealth for its own sake as a kind of mental illness, I don't see a lot of difference between e.g. Gina Rinehart and McKay's alleged straw man.
posted by flabdablet at 8:57 PM on December 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

I suspect it's a combination of "US runs the world" attitude/money/science and that other countries, I guess we just assume they don't have the money/resources/cooperation to fill in if the US doesn't do the work.

Someone's blog reminded me of the No Tomorrow TV show.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:19 PM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed this comedy, it cracked me up. And, yes, it was satire -- but not biting satire. And I don't think it's going to win awards for social commentary. But it amused me, more than I anticipated, on a lonely Christmas Eve. It reminded me of all the times I smacked my head against a wall over my principles or beliefs and made no headway -- and ended screaming into the wind like a lunatic. Surprised nobody put a bag over my head and stuffed me into a car. lol

Didn't you expect the scientists to disappear to Gitmo? Or some other Dark Place? You know why I think they didn't? Because this was first and foremost a comedy. Yeah they hoped to make a point... but this was essentially for laughs.

Until the tsunamis started, and the animals turned on each other in panic (the rhinos/walruses?), and I could feel the fear, and the dinner table striving for normalcy that could just break your heart or bring you to tears.

I know that I don't usually "get" things the way most of you do, I am often a little askew. Maybe it's my age, or certain experiences that have made me blasé or resigned. I thought it was just meant to be funny and didn't do too bad a job. It also made me cry, but probably not the scenes you'd expect. That's okay, too.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 5:00 AM on December 28, 2021 [13 favorites]

We watched last night. I was entertained, which is my sole judgement on movies. I would have been more entertained I think if the movie was about 20 minutes shorter. The ending worked better than I expected, especially given the slow build up to it.
posted by COD at 9:57 AM on December 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

We don't get too many movies set around here, so all my Facebook friends are sharing a picture of DiCaprio saying, "I'm in Lansing, Michigan," and then complaining about how it doesn't look anything like Lansing.

I haven't watched it yet, but I will before I commit any more commentary.
posted by Well I never at 4:53 PM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

I love a good disaster/apocalypse film (ok, I like the bad ones too, they are mostly bad ones...) but I'm not sure I can handle 2 hours of JLaw's HAIR. wtaf is up with those bangs? is that some sort of horrifically mangled wig???? did a toddler give her that haircut???

This, and Leo's chunky rumpled flannel-and-winter-coat self are what makes them being from Michigan State realistic.

I'm a few minutes in and enjoying it. I liked the brightly-colored credit fonts.
posted by Well I never at 6:10 PM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

The comet hitting the Earth is well explored in These Final Hours, which ends on a similar (depressing) note.
My favourite book on the topic is Tove Jansson's "Comet in Mooninland". The approaching comet makes Mooninvalley very hot, the sea dries up and they walk across it - there is an encounter with a poisonous bush and a giant octopus . The shelter in a cave finally - but the comet misses; phew! As a kid, I remember reading this shortly before the news was talking about a real comet that was approaching the earth (Comet West I believe). I assumed that this one was also likely to destroy the planet like the one in Jansson's book - and came to the conclusion that the news media were... rather under-reacting... to the story. Don't Look Up - basically reflects that paranoia in an updated world.
posted by rongorongo at 10:29 PM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think Nathan Robinson was very good on this. I think this is a great satire that actually has a lot to say about how utterly inadequate the US institutions are to deal with a true crisis.

I think theres a lot to enjoy there in terms of observations; of the three scientists, the woman is treated as to emotional, the person of colour is just ignored, and the white person is trivialised as sexy and funny. The ability of the billionare to spout a bunch of high tech bullshit which becomes difficult to argue with. The failure of scientists to craft a message that people will actually listen too. The politicisation of something that shouldnt be political. It is obviously a metaphor for climate change, but also one for covid too.

Honestly though, I think its right that the nations of the world probably dont want to actually do anything about the impending disasters, and would prefer to let someone else do something.

In fact, I think the ending is a great indictment of our current situation. We can literallly look and see the impacts of climate change coming, and we are still not taking sufficient action. We keep doing this. We wait until the last moment, when action is actually not going to be effective to try something.

While I probably knew everything this film was saying as true already, it depressed me. I think we need radicalism, truly new politics if we want to fi, this, and a captive media means that it will be truly hard to do so.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:25 AM on December 29, 2021 [8 favorites]

It could have been about 30% more subtle and at least 10% shorter, but I enjoyed it.

The, perhaps unintended, message I came away with is "we're utterly screwed, it doesn't matter what you do - people at the top are self-interested and willing to let you die for a little profit, and the average person isn't going to take action until it's too late. Spend time with the people you love while you can. We're all fucked."
posted by jzb at 6:49 AM on December 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

I think Nathan Robinson was very good on this.

Well pondered and put, indeed. Some other takes:

D. Vetter in Forbes: Why Sneering Critics Dislike Netflix’s ‘Don’t Look Up,’ But Climate Scientists Love It

C. Miller in Splice: Don’t Look at Reality

Personally, I'm waiting on M.-A. Heglar's thoughts...
posted by progosk at 7:52 AM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

In a strange way we see the tech CEO solve a similar mystery - what is a Bronteroc?

I really liked the movie, but this one was poorly executed I think - they should have said wild animal or something equally generic in the setup. As it is it stands, it does not make any sense.

Who came up with the name Bronteroc? How does their algorithm know about ? Is it meant to imply the AI is so extraordinarily powerful to have extrapolated down to such minute detail and already has come up with a definite species and has a name for it? If yes, why couldn't it come up with an anti-asteroid strategy that works with such immense predictive power? Clearly it must have intentionally fumbled it, and for what reason? It seems more plausible that there are hidden variables here - maybe the system has been set up by aliens that already have this information. A single word is dramatically expanding the scope of the movie for no real reason.
posted by each day we work at 8:15 AM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Nah, they named the creature Bronteroc only because of the prediction, not really the other way around. And had the president not made it off the planet, the CEO would probably have confidently renamed the comet Bronteroc. (Bronte-rock?)

The movie makes clear that the tech is shoddy: who did it confidently predict would die alone?
posted by nobody at 8:42 AM on December 29, 2021 [11 favorites]

Randall Mindy was predicted to die alone.

We wait until the last moment, when action is actually not going to be effective to try something.

We don't do well at long term planning, especially if it requires massive change. Everyone wants to put it off till the dead last minute to avoid that change.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:17 AM on December 29, 2021

The Bronteroc Outcome (KRONCH) thing is of a piece with the rest of the flick: bloody-minded comicallly exaggerated on-the-nosing of a theme.

Namely: President Orlean died precisely as The Algorithm predicted because she stayed fully within the algorithm's system. She subsumed her (and of course, far more than just hers) life into Liif(tm).

Dr. Mindy did not die as The Algorithm predicted, because in the end, he removed himself from that system.

To come at the theme in a bit different pithy tack: the system isn't predictive, it only masquerades as that. It's not predictive: it is prescriptive.
posted by Drastic at 9:33 AM on December 29, 2021 [8 favorites]

I think making sense of the algorithm getting the name Bronteroc right without ever seeing the surface of this planet that takes 22,000 years (or whatever) to reach... is performing the stereotypical Metafilter overthinking of a plate of beans.

It was a joke, the name Bronteroc a portmanteau of Brontosaurus and roc (it did look like a dino-bird). They broke consistency for the sake of a joke, but it was funny.

Isherwood's tech is a combination of dazzling and faulty, as he pays top-notch credentialed scientists, but is not open to the criticism of peer review. Overconfidence sells. His market categories are pretty standard, lifestyle idealist, but he's just so sure of himself he thinks--and convinces others--he knows everything.
posted by Schmucko at 10:45 AM on December 29, 2021 [7 favorites]

Thought this review was spot on: Critics of “Don’t Look Up” Are Missing the Entire Point (Current Affairs)
posted by Ahmad Khani at 2:25 PM on December 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

yes, that’s The N.J. Robinson piece posted by Cannon Fodder upthread.
posted by progosk at 3:49 PM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Finally decided to see this despite my misgivings about the whole thing. I’m left wondering what the ultimate effect of a film like this is likely to be. Will this move/awaken anybody in any significant way? Or will it just reconcile the majority with what, at this point, can seemingly only be told as a story of unfortunate, but just unavoidable, fate?

I’m certainly not the audience for it. I dearly hope this doesn’t end up just being the star-studded dud it felt like. What’s on our horizon is going to need every ounce of fierce engagement, love and laughter we can muster - not to endure/accept, but to end the outrageous, systemic hoodwinking and injustice at the root of it.

More and more I’m sensitive to time wasted, and this movie… felt earnest (with an all-too declared mission) but somehow altogether tone-deaf.

So I hope it’s me not being on its intended wavelength.
posted by progosk at 4:11 PM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Will this move/awaken anybody in any significant way? Or will it just reconcile the majority with what, at this point, can seemingly only be told as a story of unfortunate, but just unavoidable, fate?

The latter. I think the movie makes the point that ONLY the big shots in power can really have any effect, not just 2 scientists begging people to pay attention and care. And if those in power don't want to do what's best for all, then everyone dies via asteroid. Same with climate change and pandemic: average humans not in power can't do much of anything, and I'm not sure they could even if you could get a lot of people to "rise up" and general strike or whatever.

"We tried" may be the best individuals can do.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:23 PM on December 29, 2021 [7 favorites]

The comet hitting the Earth is well explored in These Final Hours, which ends on a similar (depressing) note.

L. Scafaria’s debut “Seeking a Friend for The End of The World” tells this story in a subtly potent way that perhaps colours my frustration with “Don’t Look Up”, come to think of it.
posted by progosk at 12:58 AM on December 30, 2021

More thoughts about this film:

- E. Atkins in the New Scientist

- N. Allen on

- e. colven (tangentially) on medium
posted by progosk at 2:56 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


- S. Thompson & D. Kurtzleben on NPR

- D. Roberts at Volts

- E. Holthaus on Twitter
posted by progosk at 3:22 AM on December 30, 2021

I think my biggest issue with this film was the editing. There were a lot of parts that worked really well! But then it would just drag on for what seemed like ages. I really wanted to be able to call it great because I'm a real sucker for farce and it became clear quite quickly that's exactly what it would be.

"Don't look up" was a perfect recreation of the "lock her up" chants and the actor promoting his movie with the "we should be looking up and down" line was *chef's kiss* to the mealy mouthed middle. There were a lot of other great moments like that. But in the end it seemed more like a collection of great moments with a lot of meh in between.

Such a wasted opportunity of otherwise perfectly good footage.
posted by wierdo at 3:39 AM on December 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

Too long, but I liked it.

Very wild tracking reactions to this and seeing the people who cannot differentiate a movie about stupidity from a stupid movie.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:23 PM on December 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

"Grifting them for snack money didn't work for me" ... "based on a real event"

My theory, he knew he was going to be called away to ship-out, and needed some quick cash for hookers and blow - you can put those on the books when claiming travel expenses...
posted by rozcakj at 12:07 PM on January 3

It’s just not written by serious thinkers. This, exactly. I'm halfway through, and it's not even satire, it's farce, which is a weird approach to a very important subject. The scientists are so lacking in even basic understanding of how to talk about their subject. My cousin is an expert in a specific field and was on the Today show once, where he was knowledgeable and accurate (and wooden, because he's not a media personage) and got intelligent questions from Bryant Gumbel. Even the lightest-weight news-lite personality is likely to try to do some actual reporting, given any chance at all(Not a Brynat Gumbel slam, the current guys make him look like Cronkite). And even in a wildly corrupt, fucked administration, there will be a few people who pay attention, think, and try to do the right thing. So far, it feels more like a dissection of the way the Trump administration fucked up their Pandemic response with lies, stupidity, greed, and incompetence. I'll watch the rest of it this evening, and hope it improves.

We need way more attention to the unfolding Crisis of Climate, and could it be better, please?
posted by theora55 at 12:19 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]

Also, took me ages to realize it was Jennifer Lawrence, not Rebecca de Mornay.
posted by theora55 at 12:23 PM on January 3

Ugh - "can't" not "can" - well, overall thoughts - I liked it, but it dragged and was predictable. I don't think the "average 'joe public'" people that it satirizes (farcializes?) will ever get it at any level, unfortunately. So - it "feels" like punching down.
posted by rozcakj at 12:30 PM on January 3

First feminist Adam McKay film! I think he finally 'looked up' or someone smart bopped him over the head about his both ways sexist disinterest in female characters. Lots of reality-based portrayals of Jennifer Lawrence dodging creepy dudes while getting treated like some kind of 'crazy bitch' for just existing. Also, multiple female characters.

Overall I enjoyed. I think they made an honest (if sometimes failed) effort to not just be superior and self righteous, like with Chalamet's evangelicalism, and the shots of nature and human diversity as we hurdle toward certain doom were quite moving to me. I cried a bit.
posted by latkes at 7:00 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

Oh and very agree this movie could have lost an hour and would have been much funnier and more impactfull if it had.

The overall politics were kind of bad, seeming to say problems can only be solved by a smart president, not through mass action, and that was very much informed by David Serota having been so involved in the Bernie campaign. Thinking about it more, this movie is more 'about' the failure of the Bernie campaign than it is about climate change.
posted by latkes at 7:06 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]

It’s just not written by serious thinkers.

I liked this film a lot for what it is, and so as a premise I think of Hollywood entertainment as a feature, not a bug. Like, I don't need the industry that produces Marvel movies to be serious/notserious like Parasite or some Margaret Atwood story. It would be interesting if "serious" artists and intellectuals offered material or treatment for a mainstream movie, but it's not necessary and did not detract from my enjoyment of what I'd characterize as the absurdist realism of this movie. Sure, as a leftist I might also argue that it got many details of social criticism of our times kind of inaccurately wrong, but it still spoke to the truth of our social condition.
posted by polymodus at 4:50 PM on January 4 [5 favorites]

The ending stuck with me: We really did have everything, didn't we?
posted by jeoc at 7:05 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]

My Chilean left-wing, highly educated, environmentally conscious milieu has been split right down the middle between those of us who get "Don't Look Up" and those who thinks it's "muy gringo".
posted by signal at 7:12 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]

I gave up on this about 1/3 of the way through, because (1) it's not really saying anything we don't already know and (2) it's extremely predictable and slow-to-the-point. I just couldn't be bothered to trudge through the rest of it. The Big Short is a much better film, I think, even knowing what we all were forced to learn about CDOs etc. before seeing it.
posted by axiom at 6:52 PM on January 5

Oh my goodness. This is one of the most uncomfortable, spot-on-accurate observations of American culture I've seen on screen, ever. It was a fucking AWFUL 2 hours, intense and torturous. What a fabulous movie. Just utterly compelling.

I understand that it's not going to be enjoyed by everyone, but this was never meant to be enjoyed. It's been watched 150 million hours on Netflix. Shattering all previous records handily. I'm not surprised in the least.

BTW, Eyebrows McGee and others who are wondering about the fact that apparently nobody in the rest of the world was responding to the comet, I totally agree with you that this is an example of the same attitude the movie is critiquing showing up as part of the movie! Americans think we're the center of the whole world and it's our job to do all the things and only we count.

Also I've heard that one of the cut plot lines was BASH sabotaging the Russian/Indian/Chinese effort. It didn't just blow up on its own, it was corporate sabotage. That's ... wow. Ballsy and perfect and utterly realistic. And again, the fact that this plotline was cut from the released movie is just an illustration of the exact issues being critiqued by this movie.
posted by MiraK at 9:18 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]

Oh, interesting. I wonder precisely why they decided making that sabotage explicit felt like a step too far, but I'll add that even as-is I took that as a distinct possibility when the news of the explosion was announced, and thought the movie might have even been implying as much.
posted by nobody at 10:06 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]

It hasn't come up in the reviews linked here, so my biggest question of the movie is if the "Look Up" campaign was sincere or satire. At the time I assumed it was a critique of hashtag activism. Not in a "we make fun of both sides" way, but to push people who agree with the film's message to do more. There was a meteor weeks away from hitting Earth and they were still running a vague awareness campaign without any real call to action.
posted by Gary at 11:55 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]

I took that as a distinct possibility when the news of the explosion was announced, and thought the movie might have even been implying as much.

I remember being immediately convinced that of course the multinational private corporation would nobble any mission it saw as threatening its own; how could it not?

And then when the script didn't explicitly confirm that point I remember realizing that wow, I've just felt a completely fictional conspiracy theory take root in my very own brain, at which point my respect for the artistry of all involved went up yet another notch.
posted by flabdablet at 4:21 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]

What if doom-scrolling, but in movie form?
posted by kaibutsu at 12:07 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

This was great. The bad reaction from many really surprises me, but I guess if you asked me to sit through a satire on the political situation in Britain (where I’m from) I guess I’d have a similar reaction to many here, so I suppose I can understand where you US folk are coming from.
I didn’t watch it all in one go, but in three chunks, which probably also helped with the pacing.
The end credits death of Streep and the associated gag pay off was a nice touch.
posted by chill at 2:30 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]

I was intrigued, but more lured in by the science vs. navelgazers trope (and I had no expectation of any science going in, and was pleased they barely even tried)... until suddenly I felt like I was watching a very lively Simpsons movie—not like a direct parallel, but at one moment I pictured every character as their Simpsons version, about two-thirds of the way in. And it clicked in, all the jokes, the story arc... I knew right then what I was in for.

An end scene like, "There's No Place Like Home, Marge." Only very, very grim. "And that's the story of Planet Earth, Amen, now STOP DRINKING THE GRAVY BART[freeze frame as Homer reaches out to strangle Bart while the world explodes behind them]
posted by not_on_display at 12:06 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Of course what is left at the end of the world is a sort of cockroach...

Why Don’t Look Up should win the best picture Oscar
posted by Thella at 2:44 AM on March 21

Finally watched it as part of an Oscar Marathon at Cinemark Theater and while it wasn't as terrible as the reviews led me to believe, it still wasn't very good. The satire was obvious and toothless, it was about 45 minutes too long and it just wasn't funny. I think the audience I saw it with laughed two or three times total through the whole interminitable two and a half hour runtime. There was the bit about the money for the snacks and um, that was about it for the jokes.
posted by octothorpe at 4:36 AM on March 28

Thanks again
posted by flabdablet at 4:53 AM on March 28

It's a comedy.
posted by octothorpe at 6:05 AM on March 28

Ha ha, only serious.
posted by flabdablet at 6:38 AM on March 28

« Older Podcast: The Besties: 3 Bestie...   |  Movie: Farewell, My Lovely... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments