The Reel Review
A couple of low level astronomers struggle to convince a shockingly idiotic world that a deadly comet is about to destroy the planet, in this extremely biting satire starring Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance and Meryl Streep.
With a script written with journalist/political advocate David Sirota, co-writer/director Adam McKay (Vice, The Big Short) has created an absolutely hysterical, sharp-witted satire on the self-absorbed vacuousness of modern society. Much of it is brilliant – at times uncomfortably so – an indictment of the politicization of the COVID pandemic and the public’s laziness in tackling the global climate crisis. McKay makes fun of Trumpian-era political opportunists, a bubble-headed, unregulated 24-hour TV news media, and science denying idiots who refuse to accept obvious facts when they are staring them in the face.
Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio are both excellent as the snack-obsessed astronomy grad student and her professor who discover the approaching planet-destroying comet. Streep plays an anti-intellectual, self-obsessed female version of Donald Trump (with elements of nearly all recent U.S. presidents), with Jonah Hill as her brainless son/Chief of Staff – a clear poke at Ivanka and Jared Kushner. Mark Rylance is an odd, cult-like smart phone billionaire mashup of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, whose unbridled lust for power destroys Earth, with an excellent (and almost unrecognizable) Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry as the hosts of a brainless “news” program that prioritizes the dating life of a celebrity (Ariana Grande) over the end of the world. Kudos to Grande for leaning into one of the most hysterical self-caricature, musical performances of the year.
At nearly two and a half hours (if you stick around for the shockingly naked epilogue in the closing credits), the story starts to wear thin by the more serious third act and several characters (most noticeably those portrayed by Timothée Chalamet and Rob Morgan) feel like pointless throwaways. But to be blunt – if you don’t get the humor, it’s because the joke very likely is on you.
• The 10 kilometer Chicxulub asteroid that is referenced in the film hit Earth 66 million years ago in what is now the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, killing an estimated 75% of all life on Earth.
• Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in place during filming, Jennifer Lawrence filmed most of her scenes with a broken tooth that was added back in during post-production.
• Jonah Hill says the inspiration for his character was “What if Fyre Festival was a person?”