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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Don’t Look Up': An Uncommonly Shrewd and Darkly Comical Satire of Modern Society

Movie poster for Don’t Look Up (2021)

Don’t Look Up (2021) is a darkly comical and uncommonly shrewd satire of modern society that imagines the sudden appearance of an interplanetary comet hurtling toward Earth, threatening global extinction, yet barely able to gain the world's attention.

First discovered by Ph.D. candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), the deadly celestial body is just 6 months from impact yet of little concern to U.S. President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) or her son, Chief of Staff Jason Orlean (Jonah Hill). The Orleans' indifference prompts Dibiasky and Mindy to launch themselves on a fervent media tour to warn the world of the coming apocalypse, yet their efforts are repeatedly stymied by a populace too distracted by social media and celebrity news to heed their warnings.

Co-written and directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman, The Big Short) Don’t Look Up is a deceptively intelligent allegory for climate change and collective malfeasance. Mark Rylance nearly steals the show as billionaire tech CEO Peter Isherwell, who launches his own initiative to mine the comet for its rare elements, with human survival taking a back seat to corporate profiteering. Incisive and often laugh-out-loud funny, McKay's film is a loose fusion of urgency and farce that is well-crafted for discerning viewers.


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