Why you can trust ZDNet
Our recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product through our links. This helps support our work but does not influence what we write about or the price you pay. Our editors thoroughly review and fact check every article. Our process

‘ZDNet Recommends’ What exactly does that mean?

ZDNet’s recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of YOU, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form

Close

Don't Look Up, movie review: Smart, funny and depressing

A comet is about to cause an extinction-level event on Earth, whose inhabitants and leaders perversely look the other way, until it's too late.

dlu-daily-rip.jpg

Don't Look Up • Written by Adam McKay and David Sirota • Netflix

Image: NIKO TAVERNISE / Netflix

I fear I will never appreciate the humour in Netflix's new film Don't Look Up (written by Adam McKay and David Sirota) until we all stop squabbling about facts that pose an existential threat. Yes, it's terribly clever. Yes, it's well-produced and well-acted, and meticulously casts Meryl Streep, as a feckless Trumpian US president with an eye for the main chance. I know it's funny, but I can't laugh. It's like reading Private Eye: the humour can't squeak past its extremely depressing underlying reality.

The plot: Michigan State PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) finds a giant comet heading straight for Earth. She and her professorial supervisor, Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) calculate that it will cause an extinction-level event. 

In hindsight (were it available to them), they might have done better to post the news and supporting data on Twitter, where the world's astronomers, journalists, and activists would at least have applied some seriousness. But this movie's target is the unsavoury industrial complex formed by the traditional media, politicians, and business.  

dlu-white-house-meeting.jpg

President Orlean (Meryl Streep) chairs a White House meeting to discuss the imminent Armageddon.

Image: NIKO TAVERNISE / Netflix  

So instead, our heroes do the time-honoured thing of calling the authorities. In this case, these are NASA scientist Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), who gets them an appointment at the White House with President Orlean and her chief-of-staff son Jason (Jonah Hill). While they wait just outside, bigger problems seize priority inside the Oval Office.

"Does the president know why we're here?" Randall asks. "They know," Oglethorpe says wearily. 


See also: Project management: Five ways to make sure your team feels engaged.


In frustration, they turn to the media -- a newspaper, which insists on booking a TV appearance for publicity. 

"Keep it light, fun..." the producer tells them as they're being prepped for early morning airtime. This is certainly the approach of TV hosts Jack (Tyler Perry) and Brie (Cate Blanchett), who after all are here every day and must keep their audience's affection. 

Meanwhile, the head of NASA drives off serious media coverage by calling the comet "near-miss hysteria". 

In satirising modern America's lack of qualification to tackle an existential crisis, Don't Look Up ignores alternatives. No activists fire up campaigns. No bloc of governments convenes to find solutions. In this movie, it appears that only the US can save us. Hollywood is not ready for movies in which China rescues the world, even if the rest of us would be grateful.

Recent book reviews

Show Comments