Adam McKay, director of Don’t Look Up, discusses the unexpectedly negative reaction to the Netflix film from critics and calls it “brutal”.
Director Adam McKay wasn’t expecting the intense negative reviews for Don’t Look Up, his latest flick for Netflix. The film is currently sitting with a critics’ score of 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. Considering the caliber of talent involved both in front of and behind the camera, this is unusual, and could lend some support to McKay’s comments.
Don’t Look Up stars Academy Award winning actors Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio and is a dramedy disaster satire. It follows two scientists who discover a deadly comet coming to destroy Earth, and try to warn the media of the imminent apocalypse. Of course, the reaction the news receives is not the fear and panic they expected, with many on Earth seemingly indifferent to their impending doom. McKay’s directing and the winning performances from DiCaprio and Lawrence do a phenomenal job of conveying the danger, while still leaning into the sarcastic, purposeful humor.
In a Variety interview with McKay and his team, McKay spoke to the “intense anger” of some critics’ reactions to the film, saying he was “surprised” how negative they were. McKay also called the reactions “brutal”, saying that he was immediately attacked by social media for “jokingly saying” that people who couldn’t connect with the film didn’t understand what was going on in the world. Check out a full quote from McKay:
“I think we were all quite shocked. The reviews were pretty much 50-50, and that’s fine, we’ve all been through that. But I was shocked by the really intense anger that some critics had. We had been screening the movie and had gotten no reactions like that ever. Generally speaking, test audiences were laughing. So when reviews came out… That’s not to say they’re incorrect. Of course responses will be complicated and passionate… On social media, I joked about some responses, saying some people didn’t seem clued into what was going on in the world. Immediately social media descended on me like a pack of hyenas. “He’s saying if you don’t like the movie then you don’t care about the world!” That wasn’t what I was saying! Suddenly it all had a crazy momentum and there was a backlash against the critics. And there became a talking point ‘If you question the critics, you’re guilty of Trumpism!’ It was right out of the movie. To see passionate response, to see climate scientists say ‘I feel seen.'”
Don’t Look Up, which was described by star DiCaprio as a metaphor for climate change, addresses the often-maddening apathy of politicians, news pundits, and even the general public in the face of true danger. Many felt Don’t Look Up was an allegory for the government’s handling of COVID-19. It’s certainly not difficult to imagine such impending doom, given the pandemic. The film’s searing commentary might have hit too close to home at the present time.
However, despite the negative reviews and backlash, Don’t Look Up currently reigns as Netflix’s 3rd most-viewed original movie in its first 11 days. This is probably due in large part to the star power of DiCaprio and Lawrence, as well as the rest of the star-studded cast, which included Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Tyler Perry, and Jonah Hill. Even if critics aren’t responding well to the film, audiences certainly are showing their support for it by streaming Don’t Look Up on Netflix.
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