“Don’t Look Up” shares a worrisome but gripping message about the state of our society


Photo courtesy of Netflix

“Don’t Look Up,” provides an interesting commentary on issues in our current lives.

“BASED ON REAL EVENTS. THAT HAVEN’T HAPPENED. YET.” These words kick off one of the strangest and most enjoyable movies we have ever seen. 

“Don’t Look Up”, now streaming on Netflix, was clearly made to be a reflection of our society. Any person who pays some attention to the news or pop culture could easily draw dozens of parallels between the movie and real life. The movie is a play on our leaders, news anchors, reporters, rallies, political messages and corporations that we see in our everyday lives. The only difference, of course, is the threat of a destructive comet. 

At the beginning of the movie, Kate Dibiasky, played by Jennifer Lawrence, and Dr. Randall Mindy, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, discover a comet hurtling towards Earth. They predict that in six months, the comet will strike Earth, and destroy the planet. 

But under the influence of fictional tech giant Peter Isherwell, portrayed by Mark Rylance, President Janie Orlean, portrayed by Meryl Streep, decides not to follow the advice of Kate and Dr. Mindy to destroy the comet, and rather tries to mine it for precious materials. 

This kicks off a nationwide debate that questions the existence of the comet and what to do about it. The debate mainly takes part along party lines. No distinct political parties are explicitly mentioned in the film, but the general sense is that President Orlean is a Trump-like political figure, complete with large rallies, signature hats and lots of giant American flags.

However, despite its dark premise, “Don’t Look Up” is surprisingly lighthearted. It has frequent comedic moments and made us laugh much more than we expected, given that this movie is about the end of the world. 

There are also sweet and heartfelt moments as well. The movie is interspersed with seemingly random scenes of life on Earth: hippos by a river, a prayer meeting and a hummingbird. These images are meant to show what will be impacted by the destruction from the comet.

“Don’t Look Up” is supposed to be an allegory. The comet is a metaphor for a wide array of modern issues, such as climate change or the debate over COVID-19 vaccines. Regardless of how you interpret the comet, “Don’t Look Up” is pushing an agenda. 

The main struggle of the “good guys” is to convince the general public that the comet is real and should be destroyed, not exploited. In summary, one side knows the comet is an imminent threat and tries to prevent it, the other denies that the comet’s a threat, questioning its legitimacy. Replace “the comet” with “climate change” or “COVID-19” and the movie plot becomes the current news cycle. 

Whether or not you agree with the message, the movie does a wonderful job of portraying both sides to the conflict. It is hard to not empathize with the characters who are working hard to spread the truth about the comet to a disbelieving public. The movie sets out to achieve the goal of making people aware of the problems right in front of our eyes that we don’t realize. With a clever script and excellent acting, it definitely succeeds in warning us about this issue. 

In short, we recommend “Don’t Look Up” as a hilarious cinematic op-ed about what our society is and can become. We even recommend seeing it twice, knowing the ending changes the feel of the entire movie.