Sunday 9 January 2022

Don't Look Up: A silly film about human silliness

 Last night, in a rare moment of intersection with the zeitgeist, I found myself watching the Netflix movie Don't Look Up. This film, I gather, has divided opinion sharply, the critics by and large panning it, the public loving it (it's already Netflix's third most-watched movie ever). Apparently the most stinking review came from The Guardian – which has to be a recommendation in itself.
However, I knew none of all that when I began watching this contentious piece of work; I just sat back and enjoyed it. I found it a very watchable, entertaining comedy, with some excellent performances – as you'd expect from a cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Hudson and Mark Rylance. Rylance, in particular, gives a brilliant, affectless turn as the autistic tech genius/monster who is, in effect, running the whole show (and fouling it up). DiCaprio and Hudson are obscure scientists who have discovered a new comet that is undeniably on a collision course with Earth. Needless to say, they have a job getting anyone to believe them, and they are constantly fobbed off and betrayed. Normally, this would make them the obvious heroes of the story – but there's nothing normal about Don't Look Up and these two are some way from heroic.
The film has been widely viewed as a satire on climate change 'denial' and on The Donald. However, what satire there is is pretty lame, and Meryl Streep as the President suggests not Trump but Hillary Clinton. The joke is not on the deniers, or on Trump – it's on all of us, for this is a satire on human nature (which is to say, it's a comedy). Don't Look Up is a silly film about human silliness – a tricky thing to pull off, especially with the critics, who are often too serious-minded to value silliness. I enjoyed it, I laughed quite a lot, and that's good enough for me. Oh, and the final payoff visual gag is a joy. 


  1. Thank you getting the Hilary Clinton aspect of it. I've tried explaining that to several people, but the Trump-hating is deeply ingrained in people now that they can't see anything but that.

  2. Thanks Ron. I fear Trump Derangement Syndrome is still going strong.