Don’t Look Up (2021) review – a savage American political satire

By Marc Miller
Published: December 8, 2021 (Last updated: December 10, 2021)
Netflix film Dont Look Up 2021


How I learned to stop worrying and love Don’t Look Up? Adam McKay’s film is a savage American political satire and the best since Wag the Dog. In his own words, he timed that shit perfectly.

This review of the Netflix film Don’t Look Up (2021) does not contain spoilers. 

Anyone who quotes Jack Handy in the first five minutes of a movie is a true genius in my book because he recognizes genius. So, does that mean I’m a true genius based on the fact that I’m calling Adam McKay’s savage American political satire his best film ever? That’s because Don’t Look Up is unlike any satire you’ve ever seen. Well, except the ones that seemed like a satire on CNN and Fox News the past five years. That’s because most have decided to learn to stop worrying and love the bomb, administration, White House, covid, comet just plain chaos.

You can have your Ron Burgundys, Michael Burrys, Jared Vennetts, Champ Kinds, and Brick Tamlands (well, maybe not Brick), I’ll take your Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonard Dicaprio), and Ph.D. student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) who discovered a deadly comet hurtling towards earth, the film’s political leaders, President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her son/Chief of Staff Jason Orlean (Jonah Hill), and government scientist Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), who had an intimate moment with Sting that is more horrifying than anything coming down from the heavens.

It all sounds absurd. It’s not like we have faced the worst global pandemic that has put the world in danger over the past twenty months. It’s not like the oval office put off production of masks so they could hand that off to big business to spend tax dollars at an overrated premium. Or the fact that the country became so split to the far right and left, they practically met back up in the middle? That is where Mark Rylance’s Peter Isherwell, over the tech and social media platform company BASH, comes in. He wants to monetize somehow the McGuffin that keeps racing towards the earth and is going to end the human race. Hey, whoever said capitalism has its limits?

There are so many great performances, subplots, and bits that go into Don’t Look Up that I cannot describe them all here. Dicaprio might have given his funniest and most unhinged performance as a scientist who can’t seem to get the decision-makers or media members to see just how serious this situation is. I could not get enough of Jonah Hill’s take on a spoiled, unimpressive son of the President who was handed his position of Chief Staff (not to mention the joke of the head of NASA whose resume consists of being an Anosteglogist). Even a running gag of General Themes (played by veteran actor Paul Guilfoyle) charging money for free snacks, to begin with, sums up government spending perfectly. Many may question that point of that scene, and with good reason. But what makes it so funny and different is because it has never been done before.

It’s all conjured up in a way that’s entertaining and genuinely terrifying because, even if satirical, the fact is the situation is still fresh and current. I have a feeling many may find the humor too much of a comic sketch. For those who would like to have their political satire more like the Barry Levinson movie I mentioned above, I would point to Dr. Strangelove having no problem using highly exaggerated characters and situations. The use of social media today was not around 25 years ago and has pulled back the curtain on what a farce politics can be. McKay just adds disaster movies like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and Melancholia to the mix.

In others words, what Jason Orlean would say, Adam McKay times that shit perfectly.

What did you think of the Netflix film Don’t Look Up (2021)? Comment below. 

Movie Reviews, Netflix