This starry, satirical disaster movie tries to make light of a comet hurtling towards earth, a whopping space rock of a metaphor for the impending doom of climate change and/or the COVID pandemic.
Director Adam Mackay specialises in this pile up of grimaces, having jokily spoofed the financial crash in The Big Short and the Bush administration in Vice. I preferred this latest, somewhat broader farce, which has something in common with his early work making the out-and-out funny Anchorman and (one my guilty, gross favourites) Step Brothers.
Except, it isn’t very funny. Leonardo Di Caprio and Jennifer Lawrence are a couple of Michigan State university astronomists who discover the collision course and alert Nasa and the White House, getting summoned to the Oval Office to meet President Meryl Streep and her chief of staff son Jonah Hill. They’re blithering idiots in thrall to big business of course, so they advise “sitting tight”.
They’re also ruled by a geeky internet gazillionaire savant played by Mark Rylance, who intercepts the plans to intercept the comet, spying a business opportunity for his own space programme.
There’s a news show hosted by Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry who try and make light of the comet story, preferring celebrity fluff and the doomsaying star gazers are turned into internet memes…
You can see what the film’s trying to do, and some of it lands, but at over two hours, it’s way too long for jollity and not able to pivot to real emotion despite the skills of the fine actors employed. But nevertheless, its smart observations and cruel honesty about the state of mankind is at least addressing issues I haven’t seen a mainstream movie even get near to grappling for some while. So, do look it up, I’d say.