Satirical Masterpiece “Don’t Look Up” Is a Success for Netflix


Photograph/The Boston Globe

Don’t Look Up cast at the film’s premier.

On Dec. 5, 2021, Netflix released the all-star casted film “Don’t Look Up.” Concluding a series of algorithms, student-astronomer Kate Dibiasky—played by Jennifer Lawrence—discovers what appears to be a record-breaking comet headed toward Earth. Lawrence’s haircut, fashion, and piercings sell her role as a millennial student and directly contrast her professor Randall Mindy’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) mature style and verbiage. After further studies, DiCaprio portrays a panicked professor as his student just discovered a comet with the power to demolish the planet and all its inhabitants. 

Director and screenwriter Adam McKay is also a comedian, so it was inevitable that he would implement humor into Don’t Look Up. McKay utilizes comedy as well as a satirical undertone throughout the plot as DiCaprio and Lawrence bring their news to the President of the United States, played by Meryl Streep, but the administration’s dismissal of the comet mirrors society’s ignorance to real-world problems. Dicaprio and Lawrence, knowing that they must prove that the comet is not to be taken lightly, attempt to warn civilians about the comet on a television broadcast known as the Daily Rip. After their television appearances, however, the film reaches its climax as DiCaprio’s character indulges in the media storm and switches his opinion of the comet.

DiCaprio and Streep become antagonists in the film as they advocate for people to avoid looking up at the comet, hence the title of the film. The power DiCaprio and Streep’s characters hold is a reflection of real-world politics as society is constantly being sucked into a vortex of fake news and media to avoid knowing the truth. On the other end of the spectrum, Lawrence is adamant on exposing not only the comet, but uncovering the government’s facade. She is later joined by a video game-obsessed burnout Yule, played by Timothée Chalamet. Known for his breakout performance as the reserved and inquisitive socialite Elio in “Call Me by Your Name,” Chalamet portrays a polar opposite role in “Don’t Look Up.” Chalamet—along with the rest of the cast—provides both comical relief and relatability that is refreshing to the audience. As a whole, between the humor and drama is a shockingly-true social commentary that certainly holds true to the real world. 

Aside from its context, the layout of the film is equally as captivating. Throughout the film, the screen cuts away from the scene to display enlarged images of nature such as a bee, whale and a baby. These images are connected by their contribution to Earth, indicating that, at its core, “Don’t Look Up” represents how politics and media contribute to the changing climate.