Don’t Look Up Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Don’t Look Up is a satirical comedy that has become the best outcome of 2021. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet and Mark Rylance. The actors played the most absurd aspects of modern society, where people deny the obvious problems that may affect the future of all mankind.

“Don’t Look Up” / Don’t Look Up

Genre black comedy, science fiction
Directed by Adam McKay
Cast Leonardo DiCaprio (Dr. Randall Mindy), Jennifer Lawrence (Kate DiBiasky), Meryl Streep (President Jane Orlin), Jonah Hill (Jason Orlin), Cate Blanchett (Brie Evanti), Timothée Chalamet (Yul), Rob Morgan (Dr. Clayton Oglethorpe), Mark Rylance (Peter Isherwell), Himesh Patel (Philip), Ron Perlman (General Bene dict Drask), etc.
Bluegrass Films, Hyperobject Industries
Release year 2021
IMDb website
Where to watch Netflix

A huge comet, which is called the “planet killer”, flies to the Earth. The celestial body is noticed by two unknown scientists – they are trying to warn the world that it will soon come to an end. The situation is catastrophic, but none of the dignitaries listens to the opinion of astronomers.

The problem is that an overly straightforward graduate student (Jennifer Lawrence) and a professor with panic attacks (Leonardo DiCaprio) fail to turn a major discovery into a sensation. Viewers are much more interested in following the stars of show business and watching how politicians compromise themselves before the elections. Therefore, the news about orbital calculations is gaining fewer clicks than the weather forecast, and scientists expose themselves to ridicule. Meanwhile, only half a year is left before the comet’s collision with the Earth.

The author of the idea, director and producer of social satire was Adam McKay – a director with an ambiguous filmography. His list of works includes examples of failed comedies, mostly the result of years of collaboration with comedian Will Ferrell. However, the projects of recent years, on which McKay worked without Ferrell, reveal him from the other side.

Adam has been able to create multi-faceted films with compelling explanations of complex topics such as the Wall Street financial analyst The Big Short and the political exposé Vice. Both films were nominated for an Oscar, and McKay received a gold statuette for Best Adapted Screenplay.


Curiously, Adam McKay came up with the plot for Don’t Look Up a few years before the pandemic began. He used the comet as an allegory for the climate crisis – everyone is well aware of global warming, but few take this topic seriously.

When the director assembled the creative team and got to work, production had to be stopped due to the spread of COVID-19. Back on set, McKay found that his script reflected the new realities of life with the coronavirus. At first, no one pays attention to the problem, then the media picks up a hot topic for discussion, after which social media users turn quotes from speakers into memes. Polls show that many people doubt the existence of the comet – they just can’t see it with their own eyes, and trusting scientists’ research is not an option for them. Clashes and protests take place on the streets, which are used by cunning politicians with low ratings.


“Don’t Look Up” avoids the tearful moralizing that filmmakers sometimes indulge in. The film chooses a different path – it mercilessly ironizes American society, but at the same time touches the whole world and reaches out to each of us.

McKay’s satire covers absolutely all areas, hits pain points and notices secondary topics that are in the range of interests of most people. It is easy to believe that the headline “The End Is Near. Will there be a Super Bowl?”, Hollywood will make a blockbuster based on the impending tragedy, and celebrities will promote post-apocalyptic cinema with a call for peaceful coexistence between those who fear the comet and those who do not believe in it (a witty cameo by Chris Evans).


Most of all, the comedy of the situation is revealed within the walls of the White House, where the President of the United States, played by Meryl Streep, appears. The actress captures the worst qualities of flaunting politicians and adds to the public image a mocking smile that appears behind closed doors. The president is working in crisis mode – not because of the “killer of the Earth”, of course, but because of the upcoming elections to the Congress, which seem to be more important than the catastrophe. The national leader is always accompanied by his son and part-time head of the presidential administration – he was played by Jonah Hill, who often improvised on the set. Unfortunately, Jonah noticeably overdoes it with his character’s absurd remarks, which becomes a minus for the film.

But Leonardo DiCaprio is wonderful in the role of an astronomer, who at first is rather difficult to perform in front of strangers. It’s good that on Netflix you can watch movies with the original audio track, where you can hear how the actor’s voice trembles and breaks.

Another bright performance belongs to Cate Blanchett – the artist copies the mannerisms of American presenters from popular television programs. They automatically turn any news into an entertainment show, where frivolous chatter and fake laughter are welcomed. Also in the film, the collective image of a billionaire appears – Mark Rylance portrays the owner of a technology company who believes that he is helping humanity evolve.


Prior to its premiere on Netflix, Adam McKay’s comedy fueled the movie for months with an impressive cast that draws attention but doesn’t always live up to expectations. And yet the director was able to shoot a witty two-hour tape that makes fun of absolutely everything that we face every day. Watching a picture with such satire is a pleasure, however, sometimes a parody reflects real life too accurately, which makes you uncomfortable.

By the way, there are two scenes after the credits in the comedy. In them, the director completely gets rid of the serious tone.


Pluses: a successful satire on American society, and at the same time on the entire modern world; the game of Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett; absurd moments with the interests of most people; the essence of politics that comes out behind closed doors Cons: Jonah Hill overdoes her character’s silly remarks Conclusion:

ruthless irony over the world, which refuses to see the approach of catastrophe. Adam McKay creates a comet that, without moralizing, draws parallels with the pandemic and global warming.

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