My experience with Adam McKay is limited, perhaps because he specialized in Will Farrell movies. Nothing against Farrell, but as I've noted too many times, I'm not much for modern comedies. I actually liked The Other Guys, but I thought Step Brothers was a disaster, and that's all I've seen up to now. Based on what I've seen, Don't Look Up is different, and it isn't much like a modern comedy ... it's not exactly a comedy at all, although there are funny parts. McKay, who also wrote the screenplay, takes a kitchen sink approach, and it's inevitably uneven. But the high points are interesting, some of the comedy works, and the cast has fun with their characters, not an easy task considering Don't Look Up is about the end of the world as we know it.
The basic plot connects with our current climate crisis ... a large comet is headed straight for Earth, and if it collides, the result will be complete destruction, so something needs to be done, and quick. You've got geeky scientists who can't get people's attention, corrupt politicians only interested in their next election, and citizens who are often like sheep, with no cares or beliefs about science. Leonardo DiCaprio is a professor of astronomy who gets caught up in the perils of media fame, Jennifer Lawrence is his PhD candidate who discovers the comet. Meryl Streep is the president, Jonah Hill her son and chief of staff. All sorts of people turn up, like Tyler Perry and Cate Blanchett as hosts of a happy-hour news magazine, Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi as music stars, Melanie Lynskey, Ron Perlman ... McKay got himself quite a cast. My favorite is Mark Rylance as a spacey gazillionaire with goofy ideas and enough money to put them into action.
The movie is way too long, but McKay does a good job of making the audience anticipate a happy ending that never comes. A family dinner with the scientists, family, and friends is actually touching. Every other scene will remind you of other movies, some better than this. Melancholia is the one I thought of most often, although Don't Look Up lacks the visual beauty of that film's end-of-the-world. It might be the case that Don't Look Up will play well in home viewing, since any distractions are not all that important considering the movie should be a lot shorter anyway. There is a lot of Oscar talk about this film, and the cast does include five Oscar winners and a couple of nominees.
And where else are you going to hear Ariana Grande singing "Get your head out of your ass, listen to the goddamn qualified scientists. We really fucked it up."