I know, I know, I am reviewing the 2021 ‘Don’t Look Up’ in the wrong year. It’s 2022 already, too many have already spoken. But hey, I wasn’t even planning on watching the movie, even though the trailer did seem fun and interesting. However, someone in the family said we must check it out, so we did. And in the movie’s defense – it does have a mildly hilarious and engaging first half. But slowly and steadily, it keeps getting boring, too long, and too pretentious for a parody. The 2013 film ‘This Is The End’ was probably more entertaining. And even though I don’t remember much, I didn’t feel disappointed by the end. That’s unfortunately not the case with this 2021 film directed by Adam McKay, based on a story by David Sirota.
Plot overview – Two American astronomers discover a comet that’s going to kill everybody on the planet in 5 months, and they try to convince the media to take their story seriously, after the White House doesn’t quite get their point.
Leonardo DiCaprio as the pill-popping Dr Randall Mindy makes for an interesting middle-age protagonist, who gets to have a steamy affair with Cate Blanchett’s news anchor character Brie Evantee. Evantee by the way completely overshadows Mindy, whenever the two are on the screen together, even when he is having a complete nervous breakdown. Or maybe I am just a bigger Blanchett fan. Who knows.
Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky, the junior astronomer who first discovers the comet has a meatier part – the confident, cynical ‘fuck the establishment’ type of young-ling, who is immediately turned into a meme by social media. Meryl Street is phenomenal as President Orlean, just the right actor to play the fictional first woman President of America on the big screen. She is like the male version of Donald Trump, but saucier and slightly less dumber. Jonah Hill as her idiot son Jason Orlean is between hilarious and mediocre.
There are a lot of things that ‘Don’t Look Up’ gets right – the social media culture, the general apathy of the establishment, the ridiculously spineless/toxic American tv news media; and how corporate giants and big tech companies are the real puppet-masters of our world. But one of the weakest links in the film is the primary antagonist – Mark Rylance who plays Billionaire Peter Isherwell. As a non-American, I just couldn’t figure out if he is based on a real American personality. Regardless of whoever the character is inspired from, Rylance as Isherwell is underwhelming, annoying and a pain to watch. There’s a Hindi phrase that goes “maza nahi aaya”, which literally translates to “it wasn’t enjoyable”. That’s all I can say about Rylance’s performance. Even though he barely has any screentime, his character single-handedly manages to ruin the entire movie (at least for me). And Isherwell isn’t the only one to blame. A lot of the characters are stuffed in just so some big and popular faces could make an appearance. Like actor Timothy Chalamet, who has a completely useless cameo as Yule, a skaterboy type of dude, who Kate Dibiasky has a fling with.
I don’t even have a problem with the fact that the script over-simplifies a lot of stuff, like how America is the only one trying to deal with this planet-killer comet – I am fine by that. But there are too many forced cosmetic additions that drag the pace down and make what would could’ve been an hilarious film, into some sort of an ego massage – where the director has these big actors monkeying around on screen. The movie could’ve been over in 90 minutes, but it has a long 2 hr 18 minute runtime, too ambitious for its own good. It makes you want to hit the fast forward button eventually. Netflix TV special ‘Death to 2021’ was way more fun.
It’s a 5.5/10 from me.
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