Dropping in cinemas on today, Adam McKay’s highly-anticipated film Don’t Look Up matches the thrill of knowing a secret and not being able to shout it from the mountains with the cathartic nature of comedy.
With a star-studded cast including Academy Award-winners Leonardo DiCaprio (playing Dr. Randall Mindy) and Jennifer Lawrence (playing his student, Kate Dibaiasky), the pair take the viewers on a journey through an event that is real, but just hasn’t happened quite yet.
When Dr. Mindy and Dibiasky make the insane discovery of a comet the size of Mount Evereston a direct collision course to planet Earth, they try to do the right thing by warning others and start a plan towards saving the human race.
With DiCaprio being an environmentalist himself, he explains that he’d been searching for a film with an environmental undertone for a while, noting that McKay really hit the nail on the head with this one.
“What Adam did was so brilliant,” he explains, “Using the analogy of a giant comet heading towards Earth and showing how the human race would react to it from a political and scientific level, which I’d never seen before.”
Fellow characters like Dr. Oglethorpe, played by Rob Morgan, President Orlean, played by Meryl Streep, and Chief of Staff Jason Orlean, played by Jonah Hill, take the situation with less urgency, even though the comet is set to hit Earth in a mere six months time.
Fraught with naysayers and politicians like Streep who simply want to “sit tight and assess” before actually acting towards saving Earth, it’s the most realistic film in the apocalyptic genre to date. After all, it’s hard to actually imagine real-life elected officials taking evasive action when it comes to real catastrophes, isn’t it?
As Streep herself explains, “We’ve become accustomed to loving horrible people,” just as most of us had previously when it came to her iconic roles in films such as The Devil Wears Prada.
“President Orlean wears the burden of leading the country very lightly,” Streep adds. “She hardly gives a second thought to it. It’s really about self-aggrandisement, power, and self-importance and making a mark on the world. And if you do something along the way that helps the economy, great.”
Even when taking to the media, the pair are met with even more humiliation, jokes, and chaos from the CIA, leaving Dibiasky and Mindy to simply beg the question, “What will it take to get the world to just look up?!”
With the Academy Award-winning McKay in the director’s chair, his first few drafts of Don’t Look Up surprisingly weren’t comedic, with him wanting to take a turn towards a drama. However, after experiencing the events of these past two years, he realised that people “really, really needed to laugh.”
“I’d say the one thing that comedy has to have in order to work in the way you describe is — you need some kind of distance and perspective,” he explains.
“You can’t laugh about a monkey if you’re currently being attacked by one, right? But back up 300 feet and watch a monkey behave for a while and you’re probably going to laugh or smile.
“So, in writing this movie, and eventually making it after a pause, there was this sense of everyone collectively exhaling in relief that we could finally laugh after the insanity of the last 2 (or 20) years.”
With theatres finally open again following the wake of mass lockdowns across the country, now is the time to embark upon a bit of well-earned escapism by catching Don’t Look Up on the big screen when it releases this week, with tickets to all sessions available now.