Don’t Look Up: Mixed reviews for Leonardo DiCaprio satire


Don't Look Up, Netflix's new satirical sci-fi film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, has received mixed reviews from critics.

Director Adam McKay's movie is released in UK cinemas on Friday.

In a two-star review, The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw described the "slapstick apocalypse" feature as "laboured, self-conscious and unrelaxed", as well as lacking in real comedy.

"Don't Look Up is like a 145-minute Saturday Night Live sketch," he wrote.

The film, written, produced, and directed by McKay, stars DiCaprio and Lawrence as two astronomers who trying to warn the US president and the public about an approaching comet set to destroy the planet within six months.

Few people take the pair seriously to begin with, and many dismiss it as a hoax. The severity of the matter, however, becomes increasingly hard to deny as the film progresses.

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The comet, Bradshaw noted, is a thinly-veiled metaphor for climate change. But, he continued: "If the movie helps to do something about climate change, such critical objections are unimportant."

Don't Look Up features a star-studded ensemble cast which also includes Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perrym Mark Rylance and Jonah Hill, as well as Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande and Meryl Streep.

Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprioGetty Images

Metro's Tori Brazier gave the film three stars, writing: "Netflix has decided to buck the trend for its usual festive warmth and well wishes this holiday season by releasing what is likely the most depressing new viewing option out there on Christmas Eve – Don't Look Up.

"Don't get me wrong, it's still engaging and even humorous at times, and boasts the star-studded cast of the year… However, seeing a very close alternative reality writ large and so realistically on the big screen is quite the mind trip after what we've endured the past 21 months, and it's almost a little too close to home to properly enjoy."

One of the film's main stars, DiCaprio, has been an active environmental campaigner in recent years. He warned that "climate change is real" during his winner's speech at the 2016 Oscars ceremony.

Empire's Ian Freer was broadly positive on the film and awarded it four stars, viewing DiCaprio and Lawrence's characters as "likeable if not especially complex guides through the chaos".

"Don't Look Up is essentially Deep Impact played for yuks, Armageddon if it had a brain," he wrote, referring to previous apocalyptic cinematic efforts.

"It might bite off more than it can chew, but it is frequently funny, highly ambitious brain-food. If you think this is a Leonardo DiCaprio environmental vanity project, then think again."

Jennifer Lawrence plays Dr Kate DibiaskyNetflix

McKay previously directed Vice and Step Brothers, and won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay for 2015's The Big Short.

The Evening Standard Charlotte O'Sullivan said his latest film is unlikely to trouble the Academy, but as an effective piece of public service it is "totally worth looking up".

"Adults who grew up with Dr. Strangelove and/or Network will love the way McKay updates and tweaks those iconic epics. And a certain kind of teen will be transported by the presence of Ariana Grande," she wrote.

"As for the final scenes, they serve up a rainbow-hued hell-scape (think Hieronymus Bosch, on magic mushrooms) that really needs to be seen on the big screen. Is that Streep's actual naked bottom or a CGI apparition? All I can tell you is that, though Don't Look Up has a modest budget, the money spent has been used wisely."

The film will be released to Netflix subscribers on Christmas Eve after its two-week theatrical run.

DiCaprio portrays Dr Randall MindyNetflix

In addition to the Hollywood A-listers in the cast, the film stars Scott Mescudi (aka US rapper Kid Cudi) – who, alongside Grande, provides the film's titular theme song.

But according to The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney, "the film gets so cluttered with surplus characters and gratuitous star casting that any satirical heft is pretty much steamrolled".

"It's probably only fitting that in 2021 we get the end-of-the-world movie we deserve – a cynical, insufferably smug satire stuffed to the gills with stars that purports to comment on political and media inattention to the climate crisis but really just trivializes it. Dr. Strangelove it ain't," he said.

The director himself, McKay, told Deadline earlier this month that he preferred to compare the film to being "almost like an old Marx Brothers movie or Three Stooges, where clearly there are mice loose at the opera premiere, but they've got to cover it up."

He added that he wasn't hoping to win over climate change-deniers, but rather encourage most other people to put it to the top of their priority list.

Meryl Streep in Don't Look UpNetflix

Variety's Peter Debruge felt that the main message from the "smug, easy-target political satire" was that "humans are stupid and can't be expected to agree on anything, even if their existence depends on it."

"McKay's tone may be grating, even if you don't have to look far to see some version of what he's ranting about in the real world," he concluded. "That makes Don't Look Up a different kind of disaster movie, where the threat isn't what's to come so much as the state of affairs as they now stand."

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