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  • Kleio Kalampoki

Reviewing "Don't Look Up": Separating Fiction from Science

Don’t Look Up (2021) 7.2 | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi. (2021, December 24). IMDb.

Apocalyptic political satire black comedy Don't Look Up is a 2021 American movie written, co-produced, and directed by Adam McKay from a script he co-wrote with David Sirota. Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Cate Blanchett, and Meryl Streep are among the cast members in addition to Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, and Ron Perlman. Two astronomers are depicted in the movie trying to warn people about an impending comet that will wipe out civilization. The movie is a satire of government, political, celebrity, and media indifference to the climate crisis, and The Impact Event is an allegory for climate change.

From Netflix's synopsis: A comet orbiting the sun is discovered by astronomy graduate student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio). The issue is that it is heading straight for Earth. The additional issue? Nobody appears to really give a damn. It appears that communicating the existence of a planet-destroying object the size of Mount Everest is a difficult task. With the aid of Dr. Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), Kate and Randall set out on a media tour that takes them from the administration of an uninterested President Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her adoring son and Chief of Staff, Jason (Jonah Hill), to the airwaves of The Daily Rip, a cheery morning show hosted by Brie (Cate Blanchett) and Jack (Tyler Perry). Managing the 24-hour news cycle and getting the public's attention before it's too late proves shockingly comical with only six months until the comet makes impact. What will it take to get everyone to simply look up?

The film's strong warning message was what stood out the most. A message that was so compelling that there was hardly any entertainment value. The two most obvious metaphors for the comet in the movie are the climate crisis and the pandemic. In Don't Look Up, McKay makes the observation that our society permits us to disregard scientific evidence and the risk of our own self-destruction in order to benefit wealthy individuals in the short term. Satire is used in Don't Look Up. But it's also the most realistic movie I've ever seen about society's horrifying inaction to climate breakdown and a planet experiencing record-breaking heat. Since 2005, nine of the ten warmest years on record since 1880 have happened, and the last five warmest years have all happened since 2015.

When carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants build up in the atmosphere, they absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have already reflected off the surface of the earth. Normally, this radiation would escape into space, but because these pollutants can linger in the atmosphere for many years or even centuries, they trap the heat and make the planet hotter. The greenhouse effect is the result of these heat-trapping pollutants, specifically carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor, and synthetic fluorinated gasses, which are referred to as greenhouse gasses. Every year, scientists discover new information about the effects of global warming, and every year, we amass more proof of the catastrophic harm it causes to both people and the environment. Communities suffer, and the number of fatalities rises, as the heat waves, droughts, and floods brought on by climate change become more frequent and severe. Scientists predict that if we don't cut back on our emissions, climate change could kill more than 250,000 people annually and push 100 million people into poverty by 2030.

Last but not least, we also need to think about whether a meteor this important could have been discovered so late. I believe the answer is yes. In particular, astronomers have improved at spotting even tiny asteroids that could strike Earth. However, there are uncounted asteroids that could travel in our direction from the direction of the sun. And it's difficult, if not impossible, to see those asteroids heading in our direction. The impact of meteorites also includes altering the landscape at the impact site and in the vicinity as a result of landslides and tsunamis brought on by the impact's powerful earthquakes. Rocks at the impact site would have melted, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and causing a greenhouse effect. Thus, we draw the conclusion that the disturbance it caused was legitimate.


  • Don’t Look Up (2021) - Plot - IMDb. (n.d.). IMDb.


  • Wikipedia contributors. (2023). Don’t look up. Wikipedia.

  • Jumphost. (2023, May 15). ‘Don’t Look Up’ is all message, no movie - The Queen's Journal. The Queen’s Journal. h%20Don't%20Look%20Up,rich%20people's%20short%2Dterm%20gain.

  • Global Warming 101. (2021, April 7). Definition, Facts, Causes and Effects of Global Warming.

  • Meteorite impact - Understanding Global Change. (2022, March 8). Understanding Global Change. he%20landscape%20at%20the,atmosphere%2C%20resulting%20in%20greenhouse% 20warming.


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