“Don’t Look Up” review: broad humor undermines the satire of a country in denial

In Mimi Leder’s highly entertaining but incredibly melodramatic 1998 sci-fi disaster film “Deep Impact”, the world learns that an extinction-level comet is about to crash into Earth and cause potentially the extinction of all life as we know it.

Here’s the thing with this movie. When President Morgan Freeman – OK, Freeman’s character was President Tom Beck – calls a press conference to alert the nation and the world of this approaching comet, everyone pretty much believes him and acts on it. There is not much opposition to science and facts.

We live in different eras, as writer-director Adam McKay puts it profusely (and repeatedly) in the dark, intermittently funny, well done but far too broad and obvious “Don’t Look.” The title starts from the premise that even when virtually all of the best astronomers in the world have come to an agreement, a rapidly approaching comet will almost certainly wipe out the planet, and even when one can just look up and literally see the gigantic ball. fire of impending doom in the sky above, a considerable portion of the population will not believe it is real, refuse to take it seriously and / or peddle wild conspiracy theories as to how it all comes together of a great plan to control us.

The “Look Up” faction says all you have to do is look up and you will see the irrefutable truth. The deniers respond with what they believe to be a simple, common sense line: don’t look up!

Sadly, given the events of the past few years, yes, some people would adopt a “do not search” policy if we found ourselves squarely in the path of an Earth-shattering comet. But as much as I have admired McKay’s daringly creative and insightful satirical work on “The Big Short” (2015) and “Vice” (2018), it has to be ranked as one of the most disappointing endeavors of the year, given the premise and the incredible cast. McKay aims at a “Dr. Strangelove,” but he continues to shoot fish in a barrel long after they stop fussing.

Oscar winners abound in “Don’t Look Up,” starting with Leonardo DiCaprio as professor of astronomy at Michigan State University, Dr. Randall Mindy, and Jennifer Lawrence as a graduate student, a certain Kate Dibiasky, who makes an astonishing discovery of a Mount Everest-sized comet orbiting our solar system. For a moment, Dr Mindy and his team are in full celebration mode – until the data reveals that this “planet killer” of a comet is heading straight for Earth. Whoops.

Meryl Streep plays the American president who rejects the impending fate of the planet.

Cut to the Oval Office, where the loose, advertising-minded and easily distracted President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) takes a quick meeting with Dr Mindy, Kate and senior scientist Dr Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), while President Orleans’ silly son Jason, who is also his chief of staff, finds it impossible to contain his boredom and impatience as Dr Mindy and Kate lay out the facts.

“So how certain is that?” Said President Orléans.

“There is 100% certainty of the impact,” comes Dr Mindy’s response, to which the President replies, “Don’t say 100% … call it 70% and let’s move on.”

This is the first of many, many, many indications that groping but charming and passionate Dr. Mindy and brutal and emotionally angry punk-rock Kate will surprisingly have a hard time getting people to believe the truth. They make an appearance on an incredibly shredded morning chat show called “The Daily Rip,” where narcissistic and superficial hosts Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) and Brie Evantee (Cate Blanchett) are more interested in joking, turning Dr. Mindy into into something. of a sex symbol and move on to the next segment rather than listening to the message. (After Kate gets into a rant about how they’re all going to die, Brie says the handsome astronomer is welcome anytime, but not so much with “the screaming lady.”)

Meanwhile, the world seems more interested in the latest romantic developments between the charming and talented but breathtaking pop star Riley Bina (Ariana Grande, and good for her to laugh at herself) and her partner DJ Chello. . (Scott Mescudi aka Kid Cudi) that at the looming end of the world. Then there’s a spooky, world-renowned tech visionary (Mark Rylance, sadly hitting low notes in a weirdly bizarre performance), who has a grand plan to mine the comet for its trillions of dollars in precious commodities and THEN blow it up, “Armageddon” style. This is… not a good plan.

“Don’t Look Up” is wrapped in a packet on a comet rushing towards the planet, but is obviously meant to be a warning about environmental crises threatening our future, and there are a few highlights and some warm laughs going on. of road. More often, sadly, we spend time with one large cartoon after another, from lead roles to relatively minor supporting players such as Ron Perlman’s mad-at-arms colonel Ben Drask literally firing his guns at the approaching comet, and Timothée Chalamet as a sincere and painful skateboarder who falls in love with Kate in the midst of all the chaos. From Streep and DiCaprio and Lawrence to supporting players, “Don’t Look Up” is filled with very talented actors who really and really sell this material – but the volume stays at 11 throughout the story when certain changes in your here and there could have more effectively worn the day.