Don’t Look Up Parent Guide
The enthusiasm of the excellent cast boosts the entertainment value to what would otherwise be two hours of existential despair.
Parent Movie Review
PhD student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) has been working on her Astronomy degree at Michigan State, studying supernovas, when she happens upon a comet – a big comet. It’s between fve and ten kilometers in diameter, and on a direct collision course for Earth. If nothing changes, the planet has roughly six and a half months until it is destroyed by mile-high tsunamis, magnitude eleven earthquakes, the end of life as we know it.
Horrified by her discovery, Kate has her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), confirm the math. Fortunately, NASA has a department that monitors potentially dangerous space objects, and Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan) arranges to have the scientists whisked to the White House to brief the President. That’s where things fall apart: President Orlean (Meryl Streep), is fixated on an ongoing scandal with her Supreme Court nominee and the upcoming midterms and is not interested in an impending catastrophe. With nowhere else to turn, the scientists decide to go to the press – and that’s where the trouble starts.
As with other Adam McKay movies, this is a topical film. Watching delusional, corporate-sponsored, narcissistic politicians lead us merrily to our own destruction like the Pied Piper is not a new problem, but it is so on-the-nose that I think I got a black eye. Whether it’s COVID, climate change, or the colossal wreck of political institutions and democratic norms, the song remains the same: We just can’t seem to help ourselves. The hold raging anti-intellectualism has taken on our society is, quite literally, killing us.
This film reminds me a great deal of the 2006 cult classic/theatrical flop Idiocracy. For those of you who missed it, Idiocracy is a biting satire on contemporary American commercialism and political culture, in turns goofy and horrifyingly prescient. Don’t Look Up has a similar structure, punching the satire up to eleven just to be heard over the non-satirical craziness already prevalent in society. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it feels over-the-top.
Balancing the hyperbole is the sharp, profanity-riddled dialogue which McKay has made integral to his style. The other counterweight is the powerhouse cast, including Academy Award winners and nominees like Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, and Mark Rylance. They’re all clearly having fun with the project, and their enthusiasm really keeps what would otherwise be over two hours of depressing existential despair entertaining and watchable.
Watchable, that is, for an adult audience: Apart from the profanity, there are several scenes containing nudity and drug use, which does not make this a great choice for that under-eighteen crowd or for sensitive viewers of any age. Teens would also be unlikely to appreciate or understand the themes and messages that make the story worthwhile. But for cynical adult viewers, this movie captures a lot of the existential dread of being alive and aware in this foul year of our Lord, 2021. If you’re already buckling under the stress, this could either be cathartic or the straw that breaks your back – and you might want to ask yourself which you think it’s likely to be before you sign up for two hours of despair.Directed by Adam McKay. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Timothee Chalamet, Cate Blanchett. Running time: 145 minutes. Theatrical release December 10, 2021. Updated May 31, 2022
Watch the trailer for Don’t Look Up
Don’t Look Up
Rating & Content Info
Why is Don’t Look Up rated R? Don’t Look Up is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, some sexual content, graphic nudity and drug content
Violence: People are killed in an explosion. A woman is killed and eaten by an animal.
Sexual Content: There are several sexual references. Individuals are seen from a distance in some kind of rooftop orgy. A breast is briefly seen. Several adults are seen fully nude in a thoroughly non-sexual context. There are references to and depictions of adultery.
Profanity: There are 47 sexual expletives, 20 scatological curses, and frequent uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults are seen drinking. One character is seen smoking marijuana. Another is shown under the influence of MDMA.
Page last updated May 31, 2022
Don’t Look Up Parents' GuideWhat are some real-world parallels to the events of the film? What are some of the potential consequences of those events? What hope do we have of changing them? Who does Peter Isherwell resemble? What kind of regulation would restrict his involvement? Have any politicians proposed that kind of regulation?
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Fans may want to try other Adam McKay films like The Big Short and Vice, as well as satire films like Idiocracy, The Dead Don’t Die, Greed, On the Beach, Sorry to Bother You, Jojo Rabbit, The Death of Stalin, or Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.