Vince The Cinephile’s review published on Letterboxd:
We might have come to the year’s most polarizing film. For starters, Adam McKay’s films are not my cup of tea. His past comedies which included the Anchorman movies surely strike a mark, but with his detour to a more serious, satirical notes in The Big Short and Vice, McKay struggles to find the right tone, and cinematic execution to get his points across. It’s either too heavy handed, on-the-nose, and/or too mechanical to make it work. That’s what I struggle with in his past two films (which both came on Oscar season and surprisingly racked 13 nominations and couple of wins between them).
Don’t Look Up is McKay’s latest film which satirizes extreme capitalism and corruptive governance in the face of an impending global disaster—a disaster that will basically wipeout most of humanity. McKay raises really good, thought-provoking dissections of his themes, and I do support his concerns about global warming and the indifference that comes with it. However, to how this was assembled and executed is what I have a problem with.
First off, Don’t Look Up struggles with tone. Jokes aren’t funny, and feel misplaced when it requires real serious talk. It doesn't help too when the actors are on a different wavelength, some understand the satire (Hill, DiCaprio, Blanchett) and some are serious (Morgan and Lawrence), and some oversell the comedy (Rylance and Streep). In short, this film felt like an overlong SNL skit. The message is already obvious, but this film desperately wants to yell the message to the viewers giving us no trust in handling it our way. If its tactic is to be didactic then don’t make a film. Make a skit.
McKay gathers up Oscar-winning and nominated actors among his troupe (DiCaprio, Lawrence, Streep, Rylance, Chalamet, Blanchett, Hill, and others) and set them up for a total misfire. Again I have no complaints about their talents as actors, but their performances are an odd, weird bunch. And I have to stop there.
Overall, Don’t Look Up got great intentions but it fails miserably in getting its message across. If you want to watch a film where humanity dies…then I recommend Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (2011). It will leave you haunted for days.