The parody that attempts to end all parodies
“Could you aim that comet at my ex-wife’s house?”
‘Spoilsports’ Leonard DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence meet ‘reality purveyors’ Tyler Perry and Cate Blanchett, in Don’t Look Up, now streaming; video still courtesy of Netflix. (1)
Viewing Don’t Look Up, recently, two voices chimed in my head:
Voice 1: (‘Spoilsport’ voice) I cheered for the humming bird. The momma/baby hippo. Reminded me of the marauding killer shark sequences in Jaws, when I caught myself cheering for the shark.
Voice 2: (‘Annoying skeptic’ voice) Why do all the ‘bad’ people look so compelling; the good’ people’ look so… what’s the opposite of ‘compelling’ ? common?… banal?… ‘grise’? (2)
It’s the make-up.
Don’t Look Up is the story of a wayward comet aimed for earth and the astronomer duo who risk going to a CIA-inspired hell (“off the grid”) for delivering the bad news to a Trumpette-like US President — stiletto heels and all — played by a sneering Meryl Streep (MS).
For the film cognoscenti Don’t Look Up parodies conspiracy-thrillers…”The Post”- where MS plays Katherine Graham, “Wag the Dog,” “Seven Days in May.” One finds this film genre where ‘noirish’ plot meets ‘head-candy conspiracy revelation.’
For the political cognoscenti, there are a stream of ‘inside the Beltway’ renderings.
Don’t Look Up parodies them all with a dose of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Such is the current compartment for the conspiracy-obsessed: self-parody.
Except for ‘owning reflection,’ Don’t Look Up fails at parodying itself. Or taking its subject — conspiracy? climate change? — seriously. At film’s end we are voyeurs looking at our own demise.
That still makes us voyeurs.
The comet doesn’t help.
1- Don’t Look Up (Netflix), released 2021, written and directed by Adam McKay and David Sirota, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Tyler Perry, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Jonah Hill.
2-Except Jennifer Lawrence, whose character drifts along, impeccably dressed and styled.