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Don’t Look Up (2021)


Adam McKay is back with his third political film, following The Big Short and Vice. This time it is a novel story. I couldn’t help but think back to Bombshell which was written by Charles Randolph, a co-writer for The Big Short. Bombshell was also directed by Jay Roach, who crossed paths with McKay on The Campaign. It is a big interwoven cross-over of similar writers and directors putting out lefty-rallying films. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill share screen time like The Wolf of Wall Street, another entry to the lefty rage-inducing film collection.

DiCaprio and Hill are joined by Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, and more. It is a who’s-who of liberal-leaning actors that want to shame the political right through their body of work. Read my review of Bombshell to get a background on my feelings about these types of films. The target audience for this is liberals who want to feel a sense of superiority over conservatives.

The film is supposed to stand as an allegory for climate change, but I did not understand that until I learned that the movie was the result of a conversation between McKay and journalist David Sirota about climate change; Sirota gets a writing credit. The main plot is about a world-ending asteroid headed for Earth and the President’s, Meryl Streep, inability to save the planet from a demonstrable impending doom. It also brings in Mark Rylance, as a tech executive stand-in for Jeff Bezos, who is determined to use the asteroid to make money. He is the embodiment of ‘move fast and break stuff,’ refusing to allow oversight by outsiders or to even double-check his work.

The title comes from the division within the film once the asteroid comes into view in the night sky with the naked eye. The pro-science (democrat stand-ins), rally behind ‘look up’ as irrefutable evidence for their case. The President (republican stand-in) uses ‘Don’t look up’ to instill blind faith in an obvious lie. Are you thinking about the GOP’s continuation of the lie that the election was stolen? Of course, you are, it is not clever, it is just punching down. The film has a transparent wrapper over slamming conservatives as backward and dumb. It is not clever in the slightest, and still, I missed the allegory entirely.

Hollywood tends to skew liberal and it is easy to get big-name actors on board for anti-conservative, pro-science projects. It is easy to get funding for these films it seems based on how many there are. The current division in the US is not going to be solved by film, but it can be reinforced with more us versus them productions. This film is forgettable, unfunny, and not clever. It is well-acted and directed in the same style we have come to expect in these political ‘commentaries.’ I do not think it is worth watching.

These films used to get me angry at the political right, but now the films get me angry at their existence. Bringing an interesting, complex story to a format where more people can understand it is good. The Big Short helped explain the mortgage crisis that fundamentally changed the global economy. It made the story approachable and us versus them was targeted at the financial sector making bets with people’s lives. It was a common enemy to go across the aisle. This film targets the ‘too dumb to understand conservatives’ and puts them all into one box that is not representative. It is propaganda, and conservative critics are correct in labeling it as such. Let's get back to clever films that unite the ‘us’ versus common enemies of the American people.

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