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Don't Look Up


Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Ariana Grande, Melanie Lynskey, Timothee Chalamet, Himesh Patel, Ron Perlman, Michael Chiklis, Paul Guilfoyle, Rob Morgan, Tyler Perry. Voice: Liev Schreiber

Director: Adam McKay

Don't expect too many chuckles from this scattershot, star-studded satire on such end-of-the-world movies as Meteor, Deep Impact and Armageddon. Airplane! this isn't, the director being more concerned on lashing political and big business targets than raising a laugh. And only Lynskey (as DiCaprio's wife) etches anything like a grounded character.

Astro-scientists Randall and Kate (DiCaprio, Lawrence) discover a 10-kilometre wide asteroid hurtling through space and, yup, it's headed directly towards earth. Problem is, no one will listen to them, least of all the Prez (Streep, doing a wicked impersonation of Hillary Clinton; there's even a picture of Bill on her desk) who decides to 'sit tight'.

NASA's checking of the astronomers' findings, though, changes her mind, although efforts to stop the meteor are half-assed and half the population is in denial. Meanwhile, Randall finds himself a media celebrity and lurches into an affair with much-married (and bedded) news anchor Blanchett, while the more outspoken Kate frequently finds herself bundled off to an interrogation chamber with a bag over her head (one of the film's more successful running gags).

'Thanks for dressing up,' the Prez's son/secretary of state (Hill) remarks caustically to her, when she's just rushed straight from her HQ to the White House to report her findings.

The film's padding and repetitive nature soon pall, however, and Grande is dragged into the narrative for little purpose than to let her sing a song. Amid all the mayhem, the director never escapes the feeling that these are serious matters, for all the riffs that rarely rise above adolescent humour, and he gets really serious on us towards the end, before a couple of amusing sequences in the credits that are worth waiting for. All in all, it's a massively expensive-looking, star-strangled bummer.

David Quinlan

USA 2021. UK Distributor: Netflix. Colour by Company 3.
139 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 11 Dec 2021