Don’t Bother with “Don’t Look Up”


Despite the impressive cast, Don’t Look Up fails to make an impact (courtesy of Instagram).

When I first heard that Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence were going to be starring in a movie together, I was ecstatic. When I heard about the premise of the movie, I was over the moon. I love disaster movies because they are all notoriously awful. “Don’t Look Up” was definitely not an exception. 

The plot of the movie is very simple: two astronomers — played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence — discover a comet that is going to destroy Earth in six months and 14 days. When they tell the president of the United States — Meryl Streep — about the comet, as well as the rest of the world on national television, nobody takes them seriously. They act the same way they always do when they hear the world is going to end, thinking it’s just two crazy attention seekers waving their arms and claiming oblivion. The same thing happened in 2012 when a rumor spread that a giant asteroid was going to hit Earth and destroy all of humanity. Some people panicked, but most just ignored it and called them crazy.

Now, despite the very reputable cast, all of whom gave well-executed performances, the movie was not what it was supposed to be. The entire premise of the movie is that it is supposed to be ironic; it’s a satirical analysis of how politics and greed get in the way of saving human lives. This is displayed when Peter Isherwell, a Steve Jobs-esque tech billionaire, hears the comet has rare minerals that would help his company and bribes the president to let the comet hit Earth in order to mine it. In the end, the comet does hit Earth, and the president’s son — ironically the Chief of Staff — emerges from the rubble while calling for his mother. 

The message of the movie was one that was too important to have a comical approach. It was very clear that it was a spin on what happened with the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 — the national government did not immediately react which caused an economic collapse and millions of deaths. Even now, the government lowering the isolation period for people infected with COVID-19 from 10 to five days, as well as nurses still being forced to work after testing positive in order to keep the workforce alive, is mocked when Isherwell protests to let the comet hit Earth to exploit it. The president is supposed to be a satirical representation of President Trump, that much was obvious: the nepotism, the obsession with approval ratings and points in the polls and nominating a Supreme Court Justice with multiple sex scandals. 

But that’s not the issue I had with the film. I’m all for mocking political figures on both sides. There’s a lot to mock. My issue was that the entire movie felt like watching one long, drawn-out SNL skit. The premise is hilarious as a short film or a YouTube video because it is very true to what actually occurs when disaster strikes. However, the movie is two-and-a-half hours long. We get the joke, and it stopped being funny an hour ago. 

Now, I have no issue with long movies. Some of the best films I’ve ever seen are three hours long. Some of the most critically acclaimed movies of all time are three hours long. When the movie is genuinely interesting, it is worth it. Length is never an issue. However, “Don’t Look Up” is a comedy. Nothing involving comedy is ever that long. Stand-up specials are an hour at most; comedy movies are never over two hours. It’s difficult to be consistently funny for over an hour and a half. There’s a reason for that: the jokes simply get old. And with “Don’t Look Up,” the joke got old an hour in. 

Needless to say, I was thoroughly disappointed with the movie. With such a respected team of not only actors but writers as well, I expected more. But all audiences received was an endless loop of the same joke over and over again. I’m a firm believer in finishing whatever I start, but with “Don’t Look Up,” I quite literally could not finish it because I was so tired of it. Here’s a list of everything I did instead of finishing “Don’t Look Up:” my chemistry homework, a 500-word essay for my communications class, this article, refolding everything in my drawers, three loads of laundry and my history quiz. So if anyone tells you to watch the movie, even if it’s in an ironic way, it’ll be two-and-a-half hours you’ll never get back.