Jake Bittle in The Baffler:
DON’T LOOK UP, a new disaster comedy directed by Adam McKay, has debuted to rave reviews from media insiders and climate reporters. Ben Smith, writing in the New York Times, said it “nails the media apocalypse”; the climate writer Kate Aronoff said it was “so good in so many directions.” Jon Schwartz, writing for The Intercept, called it “the first film in fifty-seven years to equal the comedy and horror of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece” Dr. Strangelove. Perhaps the grandest praise came from the climate writer David Roberts, who called it “the first good movie about climate change,” a topic that he said “resists good art.” With due respect to all these accomplished writers, this critic must disagree. Don’t Look Up may have some good actors and some funny jokes, but regardless of what anyone says, or what its director intended, it is not a movie about climate change.
Don’t Look Up’s premise has the simplicity of a megachurch parable. A pair of scientists (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) discover a large comet on a collision course with earth, due to strike in about six months and wipe out all of human civilization. The scientists try to inform the president (Meryl Streep), who doesn’t care, and the media, who won’t listen because they’re too focused on celebrity gossip. Eventually, though, the scientists rant and rave enough that the president reconsiders her decision and launches a mission to blow up the comet before it hits. Until, at the last second, a billionaire tech baron (Mark Rylance) convinces her to mine the comet for rare-earth metals instead. Soon, a certain segment of the population decides that the comet could be a good job creator, or that it isn’t even real. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.