Film Critic

Chuck Koplinski is The News-Gazette's film critic. His email is chuckkoplinski@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter (@ckoplinski).

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You’re liable to have a great many feelings while watching Adam McKay’s brutal, spot-on parody, “Don’t Look Up.”

As for me, I laughed uproariously at times and was quite moved at others. However, McKay wants you to leave enraged, angered at the negligence our government and big business has shown regarding the well-being of our populace, their wanton disregard in their pursuit of profit leaving our planet in eminent danger.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence are Randall Mindy and Kate Dibiasky, two astronomers who discover a meteor on a crash course with Earth, an event that will wipe out all life. They report their findings to Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), with the government agency he’s in charge of responsible for formulating a plan to combat this problem and report to the president.

Unfortunately, the current commander-in-chief, Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) can’t be bothered with this matter, as acting on this won’t help her in the polls, so why bother? Her sycophant chief-of-staff, Jason (Jonah Hill), who also happens to be her son, agrees.

What with this dead end reached, Mindy and Dibiasky take their message to the media, hoping to find a way to get their warning to the public. However, vacuous news hosts Brie Evantee (Cate Blanchett) and Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) make light of these claims, laughing them off as just empty hysteria. And so it goes ...

A parable for global warming, the film pulls no punches in its portrayal of how corrupt and self-serving the past administration was or in showing its supporters as lemmings believing all they are told by their false prophet at our collective peril. This is a divisive film to be sure, but a brave one at that, as McKay gleefully skewers those responsible for our current plight, consequences be damned.

Those who would dismiss McKay’s approach as overly exaggerated should note that in interviews, he’s stated that as they were shooting the film, they had to make some of the characters’ actions more extreme than originally intended, as they had to keep up with the lunacy that was happening in real life. An interesting note: The movie's riot scene was filmed the evening of Jan. 6. Go figure ...

Yes, the film takes on a lot, but McKay can be forgiven if his reach exceeds his grasp. There’s a lunacy here that Streep and Hill embrace -- the Oedipal complex that Jason has for his mother is spot-on -- yet it’s not extreme enough. When Orlean stages a rally to urge her followers to deny the existence of the meteor, with her slogan being the film's title, it doesn’t ring as inspired satire but rather a citing of recent events.

To be sure, there are big laughs here. Dibiasky returning again and again to relate a particularly galling event is funnier as it builds and reminds us how deft Lawrence can be. DiCaprio’s deadpan responses to all that’s going on about him are priceless, while Blanchett steals each scene she’s in, ratcheting her character’s narcissism to great comic heights.

There are many who will not like McKay’s film, but they shouldn’t kill the messenger or disregard message just because it angers them. The whole point of the movie is to rile us to action, despite its effectively underscoring again and again just how futile that is.

Even though that might be the case, this is a vital, necessary work that, though it may only be preaching to the choir, effectively records and addresses the crimes on display, if for nothing more than to say that an effort was made.

For DVR alerts, film recommendations and movie news, follow Koplinski on Twitter (@ckoplinski). His email is chuckkoplinski@gmail.com.

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