The satirical movie Don’t Look Up premiered on Netflix last December. The film is directed by Adam McKay, who brought us movies like The Big Short and Anchorman. Don’t Look Up follows the story of astronomy grad student Kate Dabiasky, played by Jennifer Lawrence, and her doctoral adviser Dr. Randall Mindy, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who discover a massive comet that threatens to hit planet Earth in roughly six months, which will lead to extinction. The Netflix movie features a star-studded cast including Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Mark Rylance, Rob Morgan, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, and Scott Mescudi (Kid Cudi). Rolling Stone published a review of the film, taking note of its straightforwardness. “Don’t Look Up is a blunt instrument in lieu of a sharp razor, and while McKay may believe that we’re long past subtlety, it doesn’t mean that one man’s wake-up-sheeple howl into the abyss is funny, or insightful, or even watchable. It’s a disaster movie in more ways than one.” An article written by a climate scientist, Peter Kalmus, was also published in The Guardian. “It’s funny and terrifying because it conveys a certain cold truth that climate scientists and others who understand the full depth of the climate emergency are living every day. I hope that this movie, which comically depicts how hard it is to break through prevailing norms, actually helps break through those norms in real life.” If you finished watching Don’t Look Up and would want to binge on similar movies, here are five movie recommendations that fall under relatively similar genres and tackle related themes.
The disaster film Deep Impact might be the first movie that comes to mind when you watch Don’t Look Up. The plots of both movies are quite similar, with Don’t Look Up definitely being more comedic than Deep Impact. The film also involves a catastrophic event of a comet hitting Earth and threatening human existence. The comet is also discovered by a student, played by Elijah Wood, who is part of an astronomy club. Similar to Don’t Look Up, the movie also involves a president’s response to the crisis and the role of media. Deep Impact was directed by Mimi Leder and written by Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin. Steven Spielberg also served as an executive producer of the film. It stars Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell, and Morgan Freeman. The Hollywood Reporter’s film review praised the film’s plot, saying, “The story itself is rich, centering around an attempt by an ambitious journalist (Téa Leoni) to find the truth about a massive comet heading directly toward Earth.” The same article also gave positive reviews about the movie’s technical team and production. “As one would expect from the company that released Titanic domestically and another team headed by the ultimate summer director, Steven Spielberg, Deep Impact is, well, impacted by a terrific technical team.”
In The Loop
The British black comedy In The Loop is not a disaster movie, but shares a similar tone with the satire film Don’t Look Up. In the Loop is a political satire depicting a group of operatives’ attempt to prevent a brewing war between the prime minister of the UK and the president of the USA. The film is directed by Armando Iannucci and stars Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Anna Chlumsky, Paul Higgins, Mimi Kennedy, Steve Coogan, Enzo Cilenti, Christian Contreras, Olivia Poulet, David Rasche, Joanna Scanlan. In The Loop is a spin-off from Iannucci’s BBC Television series The Thick of It. The Guardian gave a description of the film, “It is a satirical, cynical nightmare on the subject of the run-up, or blunder-up, to the war in Iraq, complete with the nastiest of PR attack dogs and the dodgiest of dossiers. It conjures up a compelling backstairs political world of anxiety and incompetence, bullying and humiliation.”
Another satirical movie similar to Don’t Look Up is the 1976 film Network. Don’t Look Up involved the role of media in their plot and Network centers on a television company. The film is about an ambitious producer who develops new programming after a veteran anchor makes a controversial stunt on live television. The film stars Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall and features Wesley Addy, Ned Beatty, and Beatrice Straight. IndieWire published an article about the film on its 40th anniversary. The article focused on how Network changed how we understand News Media. “Network” is not only Lumet and Chayefsky’s cautionary tale about the future of television, but also a mournful elegy for its past, for what television briefly was and what it could have been. While the subject of “Network” is television news, its director and writer used the film as a platform to lament what they saw as the medium’s decline since its first Golden Age (hence the film’s reality television-esque “Mao Tse Tung Hour” subplot).”
Don’t Look Up shares a similar plot on how the world may end with the doomsday movie Armageddon. In the latter, an asteroid is about to hit Earth in less than a month and to prevent the catastrophic event from happening, NASA recruits a group of drillers to save the planet. It stars Bruce Willis with Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, Will Patton, Peter Stormare, Keith David, and Steve Buscemi. Washington Post published an article about the movie and gave credit to the film’s action-packed plot. “The special effects are stupendous and the suspense is palpable. By the film’s ending (shot like one of those schmaltzy IBM “global village” commercials), you may resent the fact that every imaginable button of yours has been pushed raw, but you will be powerless to lift a finger to stop it.”
The documentary Disaster Playground might be the best thing to watch after Don’t Look Up if you are interested to find out how actual scientists are preparing for outer space catastrophe such as a massive asteroid hitting Earth. The Guardian described the film’s plot in their article. “It explores the design of emergency procedures in the space program, the cause of a potential crisis being not a monster but, most likely, an asteroid.” In the same article, the film’s director Nelly Ben Hayoun shared, “The idea is to build something a bit more unusual. We are looking at all the various platforms to distribute the film, to try and make something different.” The Guardian further described the project in the same article. “Ben Hayoun uses Disaster Playground to introduce audiences to the reality of planetary defence, and the real space experts responsible for averting such disasters. The film follows the path of decision-making from organisations such as the Seti Institute and Nasa all the way to the UN, re-enacting scenarios for the deflection of near Earth objects, as well as other space-related catastrophes.”