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Look Away: Why Star-Studded Satire Don’t Look Up Is a Disaster | Charles Bramesco

WWhen you persuade someone to change their mind about an important topic, what is said is not always as important as how it is said. If a person feels attacked or disrespected or condescending, they will turn their brains off and block the most rational, correct arguments, just on principle. Homo sapiens are strange, emotional creatures, more prone to persuasive tone than ill-presented correctness. That’s why we vote for the man we like to have as a drinking buddy over the somewhat alienating candidates with a firmer grip on things. That’s why we feel heartbroken when the worst person we know makes a good point.

Adam McKay’s new satire Don’t Look Up, a last-ditch effort to make Earth’s citizens care about the approaching end of times caused by the climate crisis, seems to be at least somewhat aware of this defect in the human nature . It’s all about the difficulty of forcing the disinterested to worry, in this case about a giant comet hurtling toward Earth on a collision course of impending destruction, an emphatic but rather inappropriate metaphor. (Everyone is blasé about global warming, partly because it’s so gradual, because it’s… is not a force of instantaneous destruction with an expiration date in the near future that we will all experience.) Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence portray astronomers Randall Mindy and Kate Dibiasky, stunned to find that no one cares about the “planet-killer” they have discovered — not the grinning cable news dummies played during the day by Tyler Perry and Cate Blanchett, not the White House headed by Trump-style President Meryl Streep, and not the American people.

McKay demonstrates a clear understanding that some degree of this apathy stems from Dr. Mindy, despite the seriousness of his message, and the crucial facts and figures that bore Chief of Staff Jonah Hill into a mock sleep. But the director himself suffers from a variation of the same problem, scaring even audiences inclined to agree with his views with an ineffective episode. Unlike the panic-stricken Mindy’s stammer, McKay roars at high decibels, his technique is much closer to Dibiasky’s on-the-air screaming that we’re all going to die. Except his script says the obvious as if anyone is too stupid to realize it and does so from a position of lofty superiority that would drive out any partisans that have yet to be won.

Fingers pointing in all directions, only to blame for bringing boomerang back to the mindset this film embodies. The easygoing shots of celebrity culture and our fixation on it—usually in the form of a bubblehead pop star named Riley Bina, played by the good sport Ariana Grande—sound hollow in a production bursting with attention-grabbing A-listers. The big bad media proves useless, more interested in lascivious clickbait than honest reporting, though the script also relies on the mass communication machine as the only thing capable of turning the tide of public opinion. The most damned smug of all is McKay’s idea of ​​everyday people, from Dibiasky’s center-right parents (“We favor the jobs the comet will create,” they tell her before letting her in the house) to the veteran who was bugged to pilot the Hail Mary mission in space (Ron Perlman as a racist drunk who appeals to “both kinds” of Indians, “the ones with the elephants and the ones with the bow and arrow”).

Meryl Streep in Don’t Look Up Photo: Niko Tavernise/AP

It’s all reminiscent of the damaging focus group coda from McKay’s previous film Vice, and the implied grin on the Trumpite lashing out “libtard,” as well as the millennial who prefers the new Fast and Furious movie. McKay is so rude in expressing his general disdain that one begins to wonder who this might be for. The only group that would be simpatico with his abhorrent self-aggrandizing attitude would be the sack of liberalism on the same ideological basis, which would ostensibly alienate others on their side with an air of superiority. The toothless comedy has both the tone and reach of a well-meaning older relative’s Facebook political meme, intended not so much to criticize as to affirm that we all hate the same kinds of people.

The character who comes out of this film the least hurt is Timothée Chalamet’s Yule, a young skater rat who hangs out in the hometown to which Dibiasky eventually returns. A gentle and soulful lad, he’s an ex-Evangelical still figuring out what his faith means to him, philosophically adrift but confident enough to stand up for herself when she casually says something insensitive during the flirtation that goes on between them. arises. He gets the only emotional beat that works in context, as he does the courtesy of saying one last prayer before the apocalypse strikes, a moment so impressive because of McKay’s willingness to consider Yule’s humanity. This scene stands out as an anomaly in its ability to move, not only sentimentally, but in terms of attunement. Because it initially forces an audience to invest in one of these characters or the beliefs they represent, this is the only time the Earth seems worth preserving.