Don’t Look Up Image

Don’t Look Up

By Bobby LePire | December 31, 2021

Speaking of bloat, the worst part of Don’t Look Up is Jonah Hill. His performance is so awkward it does not fit with the rest of the carefully manufactured tone. For example, there’s a moment where he’s telling Kate that he had the FBI put a bag over her head. The way he delivers it makes it feel like a line he made up, but it has such poor timing it isn’t funny. Sadly, the entire performance feels that way.

However, there’s still a lot to appreciate and enjoy here. For starters, DiCaprio and Lawrence are brilliant in their respective roles. They bring the quick one-liners and more explosive, dramatic beats to fully formed life and share shockingly good chemistry. Happily, they are surrounded by great supporting players (Hill aside). Rob Morgan doesn’t get to be as amusing as the other characters, but he brings the proper gravitas to the proceedings. Streep is as charming as ever; while Rylance’s accent was grating at first, he gets some choice scenes in. Even Blanchett and Perry breathe life into their characters, though less of them would help the momentum considerably.


“…DiCaprio and Lawrence are brilliant…”

It should also be said that the opening of Don’t Look Up, the first 15 or 20 minutes, is captivating. The way McKay and editor Hank Corwin go from astonishing vistas of the galaxy to intimate close-ups of the main characters is seamless. This means that the initial discovery of the comet is rife with both fun, as a montage of math indicates, and weight, as its trajectory is discovered. The filmmaker ably keeps that balancing of tone throughout the entire production, never going too far in one direction or the other (excluding Hill’s scenes).

But nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare one for the ending. Don’t Look Up is about a very specific event and McKay and story co-creator David Sirota go all the way with it. As such, the finale is astounding and truly moving. The last 20 or so minutes are riveting and intense and perfectly acted by all involved. All the unnecessary detours, wasted characters, and awkward plotting are instantly forgiven as McKay’s strengths as a filmmaker, the incredible cast, and the intense narrative all converge in a perfect union.

Don’t Look Up is far too long, giving side characters much too much screen time, and as such, it drags quite a bit for its middle hour. Add Jonah Hill’s irritating performance and wasted use of several other characters, and some audience members might not derive any enjoyment from the film. Fortunately, the core cast is phenomenal, especially leads DiCaprio and Lawrence, who are both luminous and effortless. Combine that with the fantastic editing and the jaw-dropping ending, and one gets a flawed but entirely worthwhile viewing experience.

Don't Look Up (2021)

Directed and Written: Adam McKay

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Cate Blanchett, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Don't Look Up Image

"…nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare one for the ending."

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